Richard Bucker

DropBox, Box.net, SugarSync - Terms of Service

Posted at — Jul 2, 2011

There has been a lot of pissing and moaning about a section of DropBox' Terms of Service agreement. At least this was the first and fiercest monologue I had read. (this was about 2 or 3 weeks ago). However, this morning one of my age old friends from the neighborhood and McAfee talking head posted the same section of the agreement. And while I’m not one to be prodded into action I decided it required some second thought. (I use dropbox to protect my client’s projects as I am sure many do)At first I could not locate the text in question so I got a pointer from David. He was clearly up in arms and ready to abandon DropBox for good. So I decided to look for some alternatives to DropBox myself. What other vendors/service providers are out there. I’ve tried many of them and they are all very similar but none hit the sweet-spot that DropBox does. Even though there is room for improvement there too.I use the free version of Box.net for my LinkedIn profile and my WordPress account. So I am familiar with their services.And shortly after I downloaded the SugarSync iPhone app…. I decided to read all of their TOS'. And the funny thing is… you guessed it. They all have the same text. They all require some level of permission from the user.(The following links and snippet of text are current as of 7/2/2011)DropBox - We sometimes need your permission to do what you ask us to do with your stuff (for example, hosting, making public, or sharing your files). By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent we think it necessary for the Service. You must ensure you have the rights you need to grant us that permission.Box.net  - To the extent that the Services provide Users an opportunity to store and exchange information, materials, data, files, programs, ideas and opinions (“User Content”), you hereby represent and warrant that you have all necessary rights in and to all User Content you provide and all information contained therein. By registering to use the Services, you understand and acknowledge that Box.net and its contractors retain an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use, copy, and publicly display such content for the sole purpose of providing to you the Services for which you have registered. In the event that you give Box.net the right to distribute your content, additional terms may apply to Box.net’s usage or distribution of this content.  You continue to retain all ownership rights in any User Content you provide and shall remain solely responsible for your conduct, your User Content, and any material or information transmitted to other Users for interaction with other Users.  Box.net does not claim any ownership rights in any User Content.SugarSync - After setting up your account and downloading our Software, you can select the Files you want to sync and/or store. You can change the Files you want to sync or store whenever you want. In order to make the Service available to you, we need your permission to sync and store your Files. Accordingly, you hereby grant to SugarSync a license: (i) to use, copy, transmit, distribute, store and cache Files that you choose to sync and/or store; and (ii) to copy, transmit, publish, and distribute to others the Files as you designate, whether through the sharing or public linking features of the Service, in each case solely to provide the Service to you.I’m not a lawyer and I do not play one on TV. But I think this is harmless.[UPDATE 2011-07-11 Looks like Yahoo is in the same boat. However, if you read the TOC it seems no different than the DropBox. In the end they might split hairs and read your content and then the whole thing may be challenged in court, however, we’re not there yet and it really looks like they are just covering their collective butts when providing services.]