Google License: your content remains yours

Google License is part of Google Terms of Service, effective March 31, 2020, that specifies that your content remains yours, which means that you retain any intellectual property rights that you have in your content. For example, Google explains, you have intellectual property rights in the creative content you make, such as reviews you write. Or you may have the right to share someone else’s creative content if they’ve given you their permission.

Google needs your permission if your intellectual property rights restrict their use of your content. You provide Google with that permission through this license.

The license covers your content only if that content is protected by intellectual property rights. But it doesn’t affect your data protection rights and it doesn’t cover (1) publicly-available factual information that you provide, such as corrections to the address of a local business (that information doesn’t require a license because it’s considered common knowledge that everyone’s free to use), and (2) feedback that you offer, such as suggestions to improve Google’s services.

The scope of Google License is (1) worldwide, which means it’s valid anywhere in the world, (2) non-exclusive, which means you can license your content to others, and (3) royalty-free, which means there are no fees for this license. It allows Google to:

  • host, reproduce, distribute, communicate, and use your content — for example, to save your content on Google’s systems and make it accessible from anywhere you go,
  • publish, publicly perform, or publicly display your content, if you’ve made it visible to others,
  • modify your content, such as reformatting or translating it,
  • sublicense these rights to:
    • other users to allow the services to work as designed, such as enabling you to share photos with people you choose,
    • Google’s contractors who’ve signed agreements with Google that are consistent its terms, only for the limited purposes described in the Purpose section of the Terms.

Bear in mind that Google License is for the limited purpose of:

  • operating and improving the services, which means allowing the services to work as designed and creating new features and functionalities. This includes using automated systems and algorithms to analyze your content:
    • for spam, malware, and illegal content,
    • to recognize patterns in data, such as determining when to suggest a new album in Google Photos to keep related photos together,
    • to customize Google’s services for you, such as providing, recommendations and personalized search results, content, and ads. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.
  • using content you’ve shared publicly to promote the services. For example, to promote a Google app, Google might quote a review you wrote. Or to promote Google Play, Google might show a screenshot of the app you offer in the Play Store.
  • developing new technologies and services for Google consistent with these terms.

This license lasts for as long as your content is protected by intellectual property rights.

If you remove from Google’s services any content that’s covered by this license, then Google’s systems will stop making that content publicly available in a reasonable amount of time. There are two exceptions:

  • If you already shared your content with others before removing it. For example, if you shared a photo with a friend who then made a copy of it, or shared it again, then that photo may continue to appear in your friend’s Google Account even after you remove it from your Google Account.
  • If you make your content available through other companies’ services, it’s possible that search engines, including Google Search, will continue to find and display your content as part of their search results.

Read more: Google Terms of Service.