The Washington Post has picked up on the Google Terms of Service panic, specifically in relation to photography. It seems that the offending paragraph from the TOS is this one:
You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.
Let’s talk about “syndicated services,” because I feel a lot of the fear of what is happening with these terms of service agreements stems from a lack of understanding of the process of web publishing.
When you create a blog, you are syndicating your content for the world. The content you upload is in an XML format. XML allows your content to be easily incorporated into other locations via RSS, which is often referred to as “really simple syndication.” As I mentioned in my previous post about TOS agreements, the rationale behind this language is not so Google can steal your images. It’s so Google can allow your content to be syndicated across the web in any form of content reader available to people.
This provision allows an individual to read your blog, or in G+ your photos, without having to actually visit your blog directly at Blogspot or through Google+. People can simply import the RSS feed or AtomFeed into a syndicated feed reader like Google Reader, TweetDeck or whatever, and thus can get your content without directly visiting your page, OR as Google+ can export to email addresses for people who haven’t signed up for their service, in their preferred email service.
Is Google profiting on your photo? Not in any direct monetary value kind of way. However, you are. You are winning with this provision because more people are seeing your image, because you allowed them to. To take umbrage with this clause means that you want to deny other people the ability to read your content in their preferred method, thus limiting your readership base. These web publishers want your content to be made as widely available as possible, because it will drive hits to their site. Thus making them a more desirable company, and ultimately in business longer, giving you a longer opportunity to run your business through them.
What I would like to see is less knee jerk reaction to these terms, and more education about what they actually mean and what the service accomplishes via these terms.