The question often comes up whether a business can and should use their Google & Yelp reviews on their website. Leaving aside the value to the user experience for a minute, I was curious about the legal issues involved.
A small business would be foolish to use those reviews if the costs of litigation, however remote, would be onerous. So I set out to answer the question by asking on G+. It lead to a lively discussion (be sure to read the comments) and a clarification/confirmation from Google themselves.
Here is what Google says about the use of the reviews:
“Google reviews content is authored by our users. We would suggest that business owners ask for permission from the author of the content before re-using the review on a business’s website or elsewhere. Usage of the Google brand itself is covered by these permissions: http://www.google.com/permissions/.”
Bottom line, you can use the reviews legally with user permission but might get in trouble using Google trademarks without explicit permission. Although a takedown order seems more likely than litigation. On the permissions page they note:
“All of our brand features are protected by applicable trademark, copyright and other intellectual property laws. If you would like to use any of our brand features on your website…you may need to receive permission from Google first”.
I am still exploring Yelp’s formal policy but given their litigious nature I would be hesitant to use Yelp reviews until this is clarified.Using Google Reviews On Your Website by Mike Blumenthal