For those unfamiliar with the problem, these open indemnification clauses are fine if youre a major corporation with a big budget for lawyering. But theyre a potential death knell for a small or medium-size company that cant afford to pay the costs that one of the planets most heavily capitalized companies could incur in a legal dispute. And were not talking just trial costs: the clause refers to any legal action.
Does any of this make Google evil, as I have postulated in an earlier column? If they actually intend to lay claim to your companys content and how it is used, then, yes, they are evil. And profoundly stupid. Because no corporate counsel would allow Docs and Spreadsheets to handle any remotely strategic content. And therefore no company would ever want to replace inside-the-firewall control over Office with security-free Docs and Spreadsheets.
And if Google didnt intend for any of this language to appear hard to imagine it was all a mistake then they are beyond stupid: Dont they understand that corporate data, legally, requires strong, verifiable protection standards that are mandated by law? What do they think would happen if their users customer data, or patient information, or financial disclosures, ended up as part of a Google marketing or syndication program?
All of which brings us full circle to the fundamental truth: Corporate data and content usage cant be governed by poorly-worded terms of service and Catch-22 gotchas. And, as long as Googles terms of disservice for Docs and Spreadsheets are vague and misleading at best, and downright evil at worst, no enterprise in its right mind would ever replace Office with this bag of tricks. It just wouldnt be worth the price, however tempting free and on-demand might seem.