Basically its laid out pretty clearly (see section 11.1) that if you use the API to display *your* data, then you grant Google a irrevocable licence to do as it sees fit with your data.
Sure it says “You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Your Content. ” – first, to soften the blow, but then goes on to say “[to] publicly perform, publicly display and distribute Your Content… ” (click the above link to see the full text) – I dont see how that is any different to saying they can do what they like with your data.
It gets worse if you have “business listings data”, as 11.1(b) says: “For example, if you create a store locator application, Google may use the business listings information from the store locator to improve the Google Services such as Google Maps and local search.”
- give your data away free to Google why don’t you!
then as 11.3 says “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.” – in many cases I* don’t think I can!
So does that mean if I can’t grant the licence demanded, I can’t use the Maps API? It seems so to me, so its with a heavy heart have had to disable some API based maps and Mashups. At least in the short term.
* as the one agreeing to the Maps API Terms Of Service.
How its true the global Google TOS document has basically said since I can remember, but this new terms spell it out what the deal is. Before I argued it was not in the *spirit* to of Maps API to allow such broad licencing – now it seems it is.
So it’s almost tempting to say its of little practical difference – nothing has really changed – other than now it would be blatantly flouting the terms, something not really prepared to do.
Of course we have known for a long time, the ‘information grab’ is on – its a commodity; after all its Google business to organise the worlds data – and to do that it must gather data. This is generally done by the GoogleBot spidering your site – a process you maintain some control over, and even by omission, agree to.
The API does indeed offer a choice too – you can choose to not use it, but if you do, then your data can be gathered – legally too (well almost). Its Googles’ API, its their right to dictate how you use it – after all they are where offering it for free with little return. Now they have a return.
… Now I am really torn, I was a big supporter of the API – can I do that any more?
Now that all been said – I would be more than happy to be proved wrong – its not really as gloomy as it seems.
Time will tell who has shot who in the foot…. (and no doubt this will be greatly discussed)
Update: Offical announcement