Google Play TOS: You Don’t Own What You Buy

Given the post I just did about the sea change at Google Books, I went looking for the new Terms of Service for Google Play and found something no one else has mentioned — at least that I’ve seen:

Terms of Service – Books on Google Play (formerly the Google eBookstore)

Use of Digital Content. Following payment of the applicable fees for an item of Digital Content, for as long as Google and the applicable copyright holder have rights to provide you that Digital Content, Google gives you the non-exclusive right to download, subject to the restrictions set forth herein, copies of the applicable Digital Content to your Devices, and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times on your Devices or as otherwise authorized by Google as part of the Service for your personal, non-commercial use. If Google or the applicable copyright holder loses the rights to provide you any Digital Content, Google will cease serving such Digital Content to you and you may lose the ability to use such Digital Content. For certain Digital Content, Google may be acting as an agent of the copyright holder (and its agents) in providing such Digital Content to you under the Terms of Service. You acknowledge that such copyright holder (and its agents) shall be the seller(s) of such Digital Content to you under the Terms of Service. Select, copy and paste functions may be available for some Digital Content, and you must use these features within the prescribed limits and only for personal non-commercial purposes.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

So what exactly is going on here?

If eBooks are going to be Cloud-based, with offline reading via an offline cache, then once Google’s contract for sale is up, your eBook — that you paid for — will disappear?

That’s how I read it.

Google needs to clarify this.

To me, a purchase is a purchase. You took my money in exchange for the goods and whether or not you still have a contract to sell those goods, if you are storing it for me and you are the only method for storing it, it should remain on your service.


Filed under eBooks: General, Google

12 responses to “Google Play TOS: You Don’t Own What You Buy

  1. Geoff-UK

    All your base belong to us!

  2. Mike, I’m afraid Google is not the part to blame here. Rights are rights and if the right-holder ceases to have the exploitation of those rights, Google can’t do anything about it. Maybe, books (or any content) on the cloud is the problem. You are buying a license, not an object. That’s a reality about ebooks that nobody wants to address. There are some Utopian and nice projects, like, that have gone to the bone, but nobody else is talking about it.

    • mikecane

      Sorry, but no. If I *paid* for the damn thing and *only* Google can store it, it should remain there and contracts should be written to reflect that reality. Otherwise Google — and every other store that dares to pull this crap — has to re-label everything as eBook LEASES.

  3. This is why I’m stubbornly clinging to paper books and magazines. I refuse to deal with “DRM” bullshit.

  4. immovableobject

    DRM’d media is BAD. It’s bad regardless of who publishes it, who sells it, where it is stored, or what devices are required to consume it. Period. It is only just a matter of time until the purchaser loses access one way or the other. Your only protection would be the legal and technical ability to defeat DRM, allowing you to personally make and keep as many backups as you deem prudent, and to be able to convert the format to be compatible with alternative devices over time. Best of all would be the elimination of all DRM and the use of only open formats.

  5. Bill Hough

    I agree completely with immovableobject. In the meantime, I’ll continue to rent, not buy, DVDs and stick with paper books. But unless most people think the way we do, or find a technical way to defeat DRM, I’m afraid it’s here to stay.There should be truth in advertising-they should re-label everything as eBook rentals and lower prices to reflect that. But if there’s no consumer resistance this won’t happen.

  6. Shock Me

    So I pay Google or for a storage locker for my physical books?

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