Frank Taylor brings news of the newly updated release notes for Google Earth version 4.2 and rightly homes in on a major change: Updated terms of service for Google Earth Free and Plus.
In brief: You can now use it at work for “internal use”.
The most important bit of the new license now reads like this:
1. USE OF SOFTWARE; RESTRICTIONS
Use of Software. For an individual end user, the Software is made available to and may be used by you only for your personal, non-commercial use according to these Terms of Service and the Software documentation. For a business entity user, the Software may be used by you and your employees for internal use according to these Terms of Service and the Software documentation (individual end users and business end users are collectively referred to as “You” herein).
Restrictions. You agree not to use the Software in connection with or in conjunction with a system in a vehicle that offers real-time route guidance or turn-by-turn maneuvers. You agree not to use the Software for any bulk printing or downloading of imagery, data or other content.
Whereas previously we had this, in version 4.1:
1. USE OF SOFTWARE The Software is made available to you for your personal, non-commercial use only. You may not use the Software or the geographical information made available for display using the Software, or any prints or screen outputs generated with the Software in any commercial or business environment or for any commercial or business purposes for yourself or any third parties. You may not use the Google Software in any manner that could damage, disable, overburden, or impair Google’s services (e.g., you may not use the Google Software in an automated manner), nor may you use Software in any manner that could interfere with any other party’s use and enjoyment of Google’s services.
(My italics) A “Find Differences” in BBEdit finds very few further differences between the two texts. Lawyers wanting to peruse both texts can use this link to the license from version 4.1. One minor change in version 4.2 is a link to a standardized Google policy on privacy (instead of spelling it out in the text). Google’s data licensors are also referenced together with Google when posting disclaimers, and this paragraph is new:
3. PROPRIETARY RIGHTS
a. Google. […]
b. Third Parties. Data for map content in the Software is provided under license from Google’s licensors, including by Tele Atlas North America, Inc. (“TANA”) (the “TANA Data”), and is subject to intellectual property rights owned by or licensed by TANA and such other licensors. You agree that you will not engage in, and may be held liable for any unauthorized copying or disclosure of this material. By using the Software, you agree to make TANA a third party beneficiary of this agreement. Your use of TANA Data is subject to additional restrictions located in the following Legal Notices page: http://www.google.com/intl/en_us/help/legalnotices_maps.html.
So what does “internal use” mean for a business user? I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that Google Earth Free finally becomes a proper universal browser of georeferenced data. You no longer need Pro to do geoweb surfing at work, or to search and view KML files, even for doing business-related research or intelligence gathering, much as you would use an ordinary web browser to gather information from the ordinary web. Nevertheless, I suspect this new license does preclude businesses from using the Free application to produce commercial geospatial products. That would result in an “external” application of Google Earth. But, again, IANAL. Google Earth’s “Software documentation” is given as a source for further explication, but the online legal FAQs are currently still the old ones.
Also of interest is the restriction that prevents third parties from offering a sat-nav solution for cars that involves running Google Earth, much like the setup demoed by Volkswagen 18 months ago.
(Note: I’m still working setting up a reliable internet connection (again) in a very hot Cairo, so pardon the flagging blogging around here for another week.)