With Google’s last upgrade to the API TOS on November 12th, a storm of protest and complaint was unleashed in Great Britain. The Ordnance Survey had essentially pulled all of their publicly available data from use with Google Maps due to the TOS and the Guardian and BBC jumped into the fray on each side of the fray. Some API developers suggested the need to pull down their Mashups.
Google has released a new Maps API TOS this evening that appears to deal with the problems. Here is Google’s take from the Google Geo Developer Blog:
That format change appears to have called attention to the “License From You to Google” – section 11 in the November 12th update. That content license has always been part of the Google Maps API Terms of Service, because it is contained in the Google Terms of Service. Both the original and the November 12th updated Terms of Service relied on that provision to ensure Google received a sufficient content license to provide the Maps API service and to promote the service, including by highlighting excellent mashups as we did here. That section does not provide Google a license to all of the content on your Maps API site to use for any purpose, nor is that how we have treated the content from existing Maps API sites that were developed under the terms that existed prior to the November 12th update. Section 11(b), which we initially included in the November 12th update, created a lot of confusion among our API developers who are publishing licensed content. In 11(b) we were trying to be clear that we wanted a broader license from Maps API developers for use of business listings information. However, given the confusion that resulted, we removed that language from today’s revision of the terms.
Here is the new section 11:
11.1 Content License. Google claims no ownership over Your Content, and You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Your Content. By submitting, posting or displaying Your Content in the Service, you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute Your Content through the Service and as search results through Google Services. This license is solely for the purpose of enabling Google to operate the Service, to promote the Service (including through public presentations), and to index and serve such content as search results through Google Services. If you are unable or unwilling to provide such a license to Your Content, please see the FAQ for information on configuring your Maps API Implementation to opt out.
11.2 Brand Features License. You grant to Google a nontransferable, nonexclusive license during the Term to use Your Brand Features to advertise that you are using the Service.
11.3 Authority to Grant Licenses. You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above licenses.
It seems to clearly delineate that Google DOES NOT HAVE a perpetual license to the data and should, if I understand the bulk of the conflict, ease the Ordnance Survey’s concerns. That being said it still requires that map creator have a license to the content. Barry Hunter of nearby.org.uk and a map developer, noted to me in an email that it doesn’t solve his problems with the Nov 12 update:
My initial reaction is – good but not far enough. It might quell the OS’es issue with it – not sure. But pretty sure it doesnt quell mine.
The main issue to me (and perhaps the Os) is that Google wants a specific licence to the content – I am still unable to give that in the case of the mashups on nearby.org.uk and geograph.org.uk . Its not my data so how do i give google a licence to it?
Although the wording does more specifically say *your content* which might be a get out, if i dot have any content of my own – its all third party – then I dont give a licence to it.
From where I sit, this last issues of guaranteeing to Google that you have the license is a CYA tactic on their part to avoid YouTube like lawsuits as it allows Google to push any copyright issues back down to the Map developer.