Friday, April 8, 2011

Updates to the Google Maps/Google Earth APIs Terms of Service

As the Google Maps APIs continue to grow and evolve, we periodically review the Google Maps/Google Earth APIs Terms of Service, which define the terms under which we offer these APIs to developers. Today we are posting an update to these terms which contains a number of notable changes. These changes are intended to encourage use of the APIs in mobile applications, and secure the long term future of the APIs as location aware applications become ever more ubiquitous.

Developers are now permitted to use the Static Maps API outside of a web browser, for example to add thumbnail maps to mobile applications, providing the map image is linked to Google Maps. Developers of mobile apps that are sold for a fee through an online store such as the Android Market and Apple App Store no longer require a Google Maps API Premier license. This brings the Terms of the web based Maps APIs into line with the Terms of the Android Maps API and iOS SDK.

There are also a number of changes that relate to advertising and usage limits. To ensure that we can continue to offer the Maps APIs to developers for free, we now require that any new Maps API applications going forward display any advertising delivered in the maps imagery, unless the site concerned has a Google Maps API Premier license. The opt-out from displaying such advertising that was offered in earlier versions of the Terms will continue to apply to any existing Maps API applications. Information on exercising this right of opt-out will be provided on this blog at least 90 days prior to the launch of any such advertising.

We are also introducing transaction limits on the number of maps that may be generated per day by commercial Maps API web sites or applications. These limits are documented in the Maps API FAQ and will take effect on October 1st 2011. Commercial sites that exceed these limits may be required to purchase additional transactions or a Maps API Premier license. Additional transactions will be offered online at an affordable rate which will be published on or before May 2nd 2011.

Commercial sites that consistently exceed these limits and do not purchase additional transactions online will be contacted by a Maps API Premier Sales Manager to discuss their licensing options. Not for profit applications and applications deemed in the public interest (as determined by Google at its discretion) are not subject to these limits. In addition, Non-profits are also encouraged to check out their eligibility for the Google Earth Outreach program.

In addition to the most notable changes detailed above, there are many other minor changes and clarifications, and we therefore recommend that you read the complete Terms and the Google Maps API FAQ. You can also discuss the Terms with other Maps API developers on the Google Maps API forum. Please note that Google’s Developer Relations team, who monitor the forums, are not able to offer legal advice. However any frequently asked questions or areas of confusion will be clarified in future FAQ and Terms updates.