Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Update to the Google Maps API Terms of Service

From time to time we release updates to the terms of service governing our products. We recently released an updated version of the Google Maps API Terms of Service. Based on feedback from that update, we are releasing a revised version today. The Google Maps API TOS is intended to satisfy several goals: it gives Google the rights needed to operate a service which overlays content on the map, gives us the ability to showcase popular mashup sites, and allows us to index and provide search over Maps API sites so that Google users can find them.

What changed and why? A key goal for the November 12th revision was to eliminate a number of unpopular restrictions, including the prohibition on friend finder applications and non-"site" mashups. We also eliminated ambiguity about whether it's OK to use the API w/ password-protected free sites (it is). Additionally, we streamlined the format of the terms, eliminating the need for developers to reference multiple sets of incorporated terms of service, including the Google Terms of Service and the Google Maps Terms of Service to figure out what rights and obligations applied to their use of the Maps API.

That format change appears to have called attention to the "License From You to Google" - section 11 in the November 12th update. That content license has always been part of the Google Maps API Terms of Service, because it is contained in the Google Terms of Service. Both the original and the November 12th updated Terms of Service relied on that provision to ensure Google received a sufficient content license to provide the Maps API service and to promote the service, including by highlighting excellent mashups as we did here. That section does not provide Google a license to all of the content on your Maps API site to use for any purpose, nor is that how we have treated the content from existing Maps API sites that were developed under the terms that existed prior to the November 12th update. Section 11(b), which we initially included in the November 12th update, created a lot of confusion among our API developers who are publishing licensed content. In 11(b) we were trying to be clear that we wanted a broader license from Maps API developers for use of business listings information. However, given the confusion that resulted, we removed that language from today's revision of the terms.

Thank you for using the Google Maps API. We look forward to continuing to create great products together with you.