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The 5 Most Laughable Terms of Service On the Net 399

nicholas.m.carlson writes "According to these five terms of service and EULA, Google owns any content you create using its Chrome browser and can filter your Gmail messages if it likes. Facebook says it can sell its users' uploaded images as stock photography. YouTube can keep footage of your kids forever, even after you've deleted it from the site. And AOL can ban you for using vulgar language on AIM. Funny, right? That's why Valleywag calls them 'The 5 most laughable terms of service on the Net.'" Reader dlaudel writes, regarding the previously-mentioned Google EULA for Chrome, "According to Ars Technica, Google's EULA for Chrome was just copy-and-pasted from its EULA for other services, a practice that is apparently common at Google."
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The 5 Most Laughable Terms of Service On the Net

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  • by Dude McDude ( 938516 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @05:55PM (#24865751) []

    In order to keep things simple for our users, we try to use the same set of legal terms (our Universal Terms of Service) for many of our products. Sometimes, as in the case of Google Chrome, this means that the legal terms for a specific product may include terms that donâ(TM)t apply well to the use of that product. We are working quickly to remove language from Section 11 of the current Google Chrome terms of service. This change will apply retroactively to all users who have downloaded Google Chrome.

    Rebecca Ward, Senior Product Counsel for Google Chrome

  • Not ownership (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @05:58PM (#24865821)
    The Google EULA states that you grant them a non-exclusive right to store and reproduce your stuffs where necessary for the use of Google's services, which is a necessity because otherwise they'd be infringing on your IP rights by storing your files and serving them up to you. You retain copyright, ownership, blah de blah, as stated at the top of that part of the EULA. For Chrome, it's already been revised to only include the "you retain your rights" clause.
  • Re:laughable? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Man Eating Duck ( 534479 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:02PM (#24865867)

    The facebook one is blatantly taking a right that it doesn't have a legitimate reason to take.

    From their EULA:

    "By accessing or using our web site at or the mobile version thereof (together the "Site") or by posting a Share Button on your site, you (the "User") signify that you have read, understand and agree to be bound by these Terms of Use ("Terms of Use" or "Agreement"), whether or not you are a registered member of Facebook."

    My emphasis.

  • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:14PM (#24865993) Homepage Journal
    WARNING: the above link leads to a nasty GNAA page, and it's the same one you all have seen, so don't click it out of curiosity.

    Would you wizz on an electric fence?
  • I don't think so ... (Score:4, Informative)

    by chrome ( 3506 ) <`chrome' `at' `'> on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:16PM (#24866011) Homepage Journal

    9.4 Other than the limited license set forth in Section 11, Google acknowledges and agrees that it obtains no right, title or interest from you (or your licensors) under these Terms in or to any Content that you submit, post, transmit or display on, or through, the Services, including any intellectual property rights which subsist in that Content (whether those rights happen to be registered or not, and wherever in the world those rights may exist). Unless you have agreed otherwise in writing with Google, you agree that you are responsible for protecting and enforcing those rights and that Google has no obligation to do so on your behalf.

    Seems pretty clear to me. Why the rabble rabble?

  • Would you wizz on an electric fence?

    It hurts :(

  • Re:while funny, (Score:4, Informative)

    by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:27PM (#24866125) Homepage
    a eula is a warm blanket that stockholders and potential investors curl up in, as most of them are very old and have only a vague grasp of what these con-sarnit tubes are about,
    a little draconian business practice makes everything a bit easier to buy into.
  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:28PM (#24866133)
    Chromium is the open-source project. Google Chrome is a Google product derived from that project, basically by slapping an additional licence or two on top.
  • Re:funny? (Score:1, Informative)

    by fuliginous ( 1059354 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:32PM (#24866187)

    Sorry but anyone who thinks that a billion dollar company copies and pastes licenses in that un reviewed manner is less than a half wit.

    If people bother to read the term it says (translating for morons) if you use their services you are agreeing they have a right to do the things with your copyrighted work necessary in order to provide the service.

    In short if you didn't grant such terms even to transmit your document (as an example) to the service because would be copyright violation.

    I'm not saying there aren't potential holes to abuse but almost all reporting I have seen is just wrong.

  • Re:so what (Score:3, Informative)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:34PM (#24866207) Homepage Journal

    and it's total BS. I actually had this conversation with a friend that owns some 350 properties. It was quite an eye-opener for me. Evicting is not easy, not swift, and not free.

    In numerous cases, he has simply told them "be out of here in three days and so long as you haven't trashed the place I'll even give you your deposit back." In the long run it works out far better for him than the 2 or so months of lost rent trying to get them through the eviction process, plus the cost to serve the notice, the time to go to court, etc. Evicting you is the last option the landlord wants to take. (unless you are a complete terror)

    He really doesn't like evicting people. From his discussions with other landlords, in most cases, the tenant never shows up in court. But for his experience, EVERY SINGLE TENANT has shown up for court, drives him crazy. Every one of them fought it.

    There are quite a lot of laws on the books to make eviction a long process, and you as a tenant cannot waive those rights by signing anything. Although it is legally possible to sign away any of your rights short of those in the constitution, there are laws forbidding contracts from including the surrender of certain rights. It doesn't nullify the rest of the lease agreement, but that part that says he can kick you on the street without warning, that part of the contract is void.

  • Re:while funny, (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:37PM (#24866253) Homepage

    Another fun part, copyright is a strict liability issue. That means that no matter how well Facebook thought they had permission you can sue them anyway for up to $30000/work (as opposed to the 150000$/work for willful infringement RIAA/MPAA wants). That's one of the reasons you go with a stock photo agency - they usually offer some indemnity that their pictures really are cleared to use. Oh yeah and apart from that, there's the model release so unless it's only you in the picture they have to get that too.

  • by sulfur ( 1008327 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:38PM (#24866257)
    Quite interesting, I clicked it out of curiosity after reading your post to see if it could do any harm since I consider myself protected enough by using Firefox on Linux with some restrictive settings. *Sigh*... The only way to get rid of it was to issue "killall firefox" - so much for the pop-up blocker. I guess using NoScript is not that paranoid after all.
  • by atari2600 ( 545988 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:43PM (#24866327)

    Chromium is open source. Chrome isn't.

  • by Plekto ( 1018050 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:44PM (#24866331)

    Just go to their original open-source site and download it from there. No EULA at all other than the BSD one(which is fairly non-intrusive) []

    You will need to compile it, though, but I suspect a compiled non-EULA version of it will be available for Windows very very soon.

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:52PM (#24866423)
    Section 11 was the contentious section. Now it's been pruned drastically in the Chrome licence. Compare it to Section 11 of the Google Docs licence for example.
  • Re:laughable? (Score:2, Informative)

    by nullchar ( 446050 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @07:09PM (#24866609)

    So how do I read the Terms of Use?

    Go to If I do that, I've already agreed to it!

    And that is the definition of clickwrap.

  • Re:Facebook's EULA (Score:3, Informative)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @08:08PM (#24867343)

    Could be. Nobody has tested it.

    The stock photo sites certainly think a click agreement is good enough to transfer the rights to your photos to their service. Why not Facebook? Do you have to click for each photo? No judge has had the chance to decide yet.

  • Re:No problem... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @09:34PM (#24868131)

    You don't HAVE to click OK, you can click cancel. And you don't HAVE to use their products. That is the negotiation.

    Well, no, actually [].

    Unfair terms in these pre-written contracts are often thrown out by courts precisely because of the unequal bargaining power of the parties. It's not forced as such, but there is certainly recognition that they haven't been agreed between two equal and fully informed parties.

  • Re:laughable? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 04, 2008 @12:11AM (#24869463)

    The paragraph details what rights and agreements whoever is signing the contract has with the other party in case said person breaks the law, is arrested, detained, or otherwise managed to piss off a governing body.

    I kind of cheated a bit: any indemnification clause in a contract involves something like that. As a consultant for American companies in China, most of my contracts have some pretty complex indemnification clauses because of the local gov't.

  • Re:Verizon DSL (Score:5, Informative)

    by joemck ( 809949 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @01:20AM (#24869955)
    That's true of many porn and hentai message boards. Seems to be in the default TOS that comes with a lot of forum software.
  • Re:Verizon DSL (Score:5, Informative)

    by ameyer17 ( 935373 ) <> on Thursday September 04, 2008 @01:21AM (#24869969) Homepage

    I'm fairly certain it was actually referring to child pornography.
    If they actually cut people off for downloading porn, they wouldn't have any customers.
    Also, Google removed the "all your content are belong to us" clause from the license for Chrome.

  • Re:while funny, (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:44AM (#24873577) Homepage

    No, it is impossible if professional solutions are used.

    I am almost sure there must be cheaper, open source solutions too. The famous "Digimarc" technology is used since 1996 []

    It is in Photoshop too. There is no way they won't be warned with address information to contact.

    What Playboy does is, watermarking AND hiring companies to spider web for their jpegs. They get alerted and if it is high end enough, they sue them.

    The only thing I won't suggest is, using digital watermarking or any kind of hidden data/embedded in political blogs. That immediately raises eyebrows on some "big" machines :)

Truth is free, but information costs.