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Fabled Google Drive Arrives, Creates Rights Panic

There is a use-at-your-own-risk problem with Drive

Google finally introduced its long-trumpeted cloud-based Google Drive Tuesday hours before Apple released its Q2 results.

Drive happens to compete with iCloud and Apple's results, which could have been, shall we say, edgy, turned out to be over-the-top.

Drive also competes with Microsoft's SkyDrive, Dropbox, Box, Amazon's Cloud Drive and SugarSync.

Google says Drive users will get 5GB of free online storage for videos, photos, songs, files and PDFs that they can upload, create, edit, view, sync, share by way of different rights, collaborate on, get notifications, recognize scanned files, store, search (by word, owner, even some images to a point) and access from anywhere from PCs, Macs and Android devices (Gmail, iPhones, iPads, Chrome OS and Linux to come).

Google Docs is built into Google Drive offering a basic word processor, spreadsheet and presentations. There are free syncing apps for Mac and Windows and mobile devices (provided they're converted into Google format).

The data is automatically pushed to other devices and replicated.

There is a use-at-your-own-risk problem with Drive. Google's terms of service say:

"You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours."

Then it goes on to say...

"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 that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights that you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing that you have added to Google Maps)." See www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/ under "Your Content in our Services."

In response the New York Times told its staff to hold off using Drive until Google defines the scary language that's supposed to give Google the right to deliver services the user wants. According to the AP, the same terms have applied to other Google services such as Gmail since March 1.

Dropbox, which gives away 2GB, and Microsoft, which gives away 7GB, explicitly disavow any ownership.

Anyway, users who are still game and need more than 5 gigs can get 25GB for $2.49, 100GB for $4.99 or 1TB for $49.99 a month. Drive can handle up to 16TB.

Google previously offered a gig for free and claims Drive will be ad-free.

Microsoft lowered SkyDrive's prices Monday ahead of Drive's launch.

Google says it's working with third-party developers so users can send faxes, edit videos and create web site mockups from Drive.

Apple said Tuesday that iCloud has 125 million users; Dropbox claims 50 million; Box 10 million; and Microsoft (whose storage is cheaper and bigger) 17 million a month.

See drive.google.com.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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