It seems that the popular file syncing and hosting service Dropbox cannot break the negative news pattern of the last weeks. The company announced a change to their policies on Friday which they received lots of flak for. The original news post on the Dropbox company blog has been updated twice to clarify the issue. The first version basically said that a Dropbox user grants Dropbox "worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff.
Many Dropbox users have expressed concern over the policy change on the Dropbox website and on other Internet sites. Neowin, never shy to put a finder into a wound, even claimed that Dropbox could legally sell all files of their users to third parties.
The policy was updated again yesterday, it now reads:
We sometimes need your permission to do what you ask us to do with your stuff (for example, hosting, making public, or sharing your files). By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent reasonably necessary for the Service.This license is solely to enable us to technically administer, display, and operate the Services. You must ensure you have the rights you need to grant us that permission.
The bold part as been added by Dropbox to clarify the policy.
Another aspect that has not been mentioned by sites like Neowin is the fact that the wording is more or less an industry standard. When you look at Google's terms of service you read under 11.1 for instance:
You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, 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 Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.
11.2 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.
Facebook's Terms of Service state:
You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:
For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos ("IP content"), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License"). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
I'm no lawyer and cannot really say if those rights are necessary or if they could be cut down and simplified further. Users who are openly against the terms of service can either encrypt their files before they are uploaded and synced, or leave the service.
What's your take on the new terms of service?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.