A few hours ago I visited Microsoft’s Skydrive Web site in order to see if I was entitled to the free upgrade from 7Gb to 25 Gb of storage. As an existing Skydrive users it seems that I was so I’m pleased that I have additional storage space which I can use for transferring files between my mobile devices (iPod Touch and Android phone) and desktop computers. As I describe in a recent post on Paper Accepted for #W4A2012 Conference Skydrive has proved particularly useful for working with my co-authors of the final versions of a peer-reviewed paper which was produced using MS Word.

Whilst installing the Skydrive tool on my PC I noticed a tweet which announced that Google Drive had been released. Google Drive, like Skydrive and Dropbox (the utility I normally use for shipping files between various devices) provide cloud storage – and, as described in a BBC News article, Google Drive offers up to 16TB of storage with 5Gb for free – not as much as Microsoft’s offering but, to be fair, I’m getting that deal as an early adopter.

Shortly after the initial tweet I encountered the scepticism with a tweet from @sydlawrence saying:

Holy crap. Google owns everything on google drive. Tell me a business that will use it… cl.ly/1W2h1A163p0W2A … 

which linked to the following screenshot of the Google Drive terms and conditions:

There is clearly a discrepancy between the tweet and the terms and conditions: how is “Google owns everything on google drive” reconciled with “You retain ownership of any intellectual property that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours“?

But if we ignore such hyperbole, what should we make of the terms and conditions page which states:

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

Although it was truncated in the screenshot I should add that the terms and conditions went on to say that:

 The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. 

Indeed, as I asked on Twitter in a different context though related to terms and conditions for social media service, what should we make of terms and conditions which state:

We may update these Terms (including our Privacy Statement) from time to time. Changes will have immediate effect from the date of posting on this Site and you should therefore review these Terms regularly. Your continued use of this Site after changes have been made will be taken to indicate that you accept that you are bound by the updated Terms.

My view is that I will use these three Cloud storage services for both personal and work-related activities. I’m pleased that Google have been open about the fact that they may modify my content as this will include compressing my files – a Cloud storage service which did not do this would be guilty of using energy unnecessarily: something which should not be done in light of global warming concerns.

I’m also happy if Google decide to explore ways in which they can monetise my attention data, just as Facebook do when they observe my interests in beer and sport and present me with a personalised ad.

But what if they use the terms and conditions to take a copy of my content and sell it on? I don’t think this is likely, but I do accept that it is risk. I will therefore assess such risks when I make use of the service – and would advise others to take a similar approach if they store content on the service. But I’m also aware of the missed opportunity costs if I don’t use such services.

So I’ll use Google Drive, once I’ve been given access to the service. What about you?

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]