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Online Documents: This is NOT your Cloud

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Some days ago I read this post from Web Worker Daily: Who owns your Online Documents?

They went pretty deep in the legalese found in the Terms of Service of the three main players in the Documents Cloud Business: Google Documents, Zoho, Acrobat.

[ "logo", CC licensed picture by -sel ]

What they found is definitely not encouraging.

This is what Google could do on your documents.

  • You retain copyright, but “you give Google a worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through the Service for the sole purpose of enabling Google to provide you with the Service in accordance with its Privacy Policy.”
  • Google can discontinue the service at any time with no notice, and you may lose your files with no notice.
  • Google retains the right to filter or remove content.
  • Google can put ads wherever they want, with no notice to you.
  • Deleted documents may remain on Google’s servers for up to three weeks.

Then Adobe:

  • Adobe can discontinue providing the service at any time, with no notice.
  • You retain ownership of your files, but “By maintaining your
    Content on the Services, you grant to Adobe a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual,
    royalty-free and fully paid license under all intellectual property rights to copy, distribute,
    transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, and reformat your Content solely
    to deliver the Services to you.”
  • Adobe may read your content for legal or technical reasons.

And, finally, Zoho:

  • “Unless specifically permitted by you, your use of the Services does not grant AdventNet the license to use, reproduce, adapt, modify, publish or distribute the content created by you or stored in your Account for AdventNet’s commercial, marketing or any similar purpose.”
  • Zoho can block or remove content that infringes copyright or violates laws.
  • Zoho can terminate your account at any time for any reason.
  • Files may remain on their servers after deletion for an unspecified length of time.

I think the worst aspect underlined in these bullets, is that no one (neither Google nor Adobe nor Zoho) is assuring you for the backups and stability for the service they provide. They can "discontinue the service with no notice" and "you may lose your files".

So... you put your things in the cloud for ubiquitous computing and access and you trust three of the biggest providers out there to backup your files periodically but they don't assure you anything.

Well, I think this is the deal for "el-cheapo" (read: free) solutions but I don't really think I'm going to put my sensitive & important files on a provider's hands unless it shows me a strong and public backup policy and fair Terms of Service. 

As for now, I'll keep up with my rsync backup strategy (NAS + USB disk), fingers crossed.

Written by orangeek

Monday 07 July 2008 at 10:08 am

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