Dropbox updates Terms of Use [UPDATE]

We're using cloud services more and more with our Windows Phones, as well as with other devices.  One such service, Dropbox, can't seem to catch a break these days.

First, we have the Dropbox Reader that can drill into your accounts. Then Dropbox left the back door open to their services that essentially removed password protection. Now we see the cloud storage company has updated its Terms of Services claiming "worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty free, sublicenseable rights" to your stuff (yes, they use the word stuff in a legal document).

The TOS agreement may not be alarming to some but we thought you should know how Dropbox considers the content you place in their hands.

To quote from Dropbox's TOS:

"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 reasonably necessary for the Service. This license is solely to enable us to technically administer, display, and operate the Services. You must ensure you have the rights you need to grant us that permission."

Dropbox does recognize that you retain ownership of your stuff and they clarify how they might use your stuff in their Privacy Policy. Basically they can collect your personal information to be used to contact or identify you in order to improve services and to better understand your needs and interests. They also have provisions to use your geo-location information and logging/cookie data.

Google has similar language (they use "content" instead of "stuff" and ) with their TOS but SkyDrive takes on a different approach. Microsoft doesn't ask for ownership but rather rights to access your content. Here's how Microsoft words things:

"You understand that Microsoft may need, and you hereby grant Microsoft the right, to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, distribute, and display content posted on the service solely to the extent necessary to provide the service."

It may sound as if all three are saying the same thing but a "right to access" and "sublicenseable rights" can be worlds apart. Granted I don't think Dropbox will start exercising their "ownership rights" but the wording of these TOS Agreements should give us pause as to what we put in the cloud as well as what service we choose.

source: Liveside

Update: In an effort to make it clear that Dropbox isn't claiming ownership rights to your "stuff", Dropbox has decided to make some revisions to their updated TOS. On their blog site, Dropbox states that "The language in this clause was more technical than it needed to be." Believing terms like "derivative works" and "sublicensable" could come across overly broad or out of place the revisions states,

"You retain full ownership to your stuff. We don’t claim any ownership to any of it. These Terms do not grant us any rights to your stuff or intellectual property except for the limited rights that are needed to run the Services, as explained below."

The only instances Dropbox will share your stuff is outlined in the Privacy Policy (which hasn't changed). While the TOS could have been worded simpler, it's nice to see Dropbox responding to customer concerns.

Thanks Rene for the tip!

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

4 Comments
  • Well that's a given... Microsoft's makes the most sense but they're essentially saying the same thing.Specifically Microsoft's would allow them to, for instance, display a watermark over your image when displaying it. It is not worded in a way that gives them usage rights to do anything that isn't required to provide SkyDrive as a service, nor is it giving them ownership.It seems that's also exactly the same for DropBox too.They're not allowed to go and use your 'stuff' for advertising purposes or anything like that, don't see why it's such a big deal..
  • How can I trust a service that uses the word "stuff" in ther TOS? I am done with them.
  • I don't get it... They are pushing those "cloud" things so hard, but then this? Which company wants to use it?It should say, all data you put into the cloud is yours and yours only, we will never look at it, change it, or do anything else with it. We made our servers in a way that all data is encrypted and that even we are unable to see it.And then, maybe the cloud could work...
  • It's simply a matter of intent vs. actual real world use. If you are planning to blow up a National monument, or share child pornography, using your Cloud service, then they need to have a right to prevent it, or allow an agency access to your data. Provided my data is not used for their financial gain, or otherwise displayed without my permission, I don't have a problem.