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Blogger and Blogspot Terms of Service: Analysis

Highights Of The Terms Of Service (TOS) For Blogger and Blogspot


How private is your information on Blogger?
Is it a breach of Terms of Service to remove the Blogger NavBar?

This article was written on 12-September-2006 and refers to the document available at http://www.blogger.com/terms.g on that date.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer (but I have done a bit of contract and commercial law over a few years). This article is a guide only, not legal advice or any kind of recommendation, and some or all of the content may not apply to you depending on your circumstances or location.


First thing to understand is that "Blogger" and "Blog*Spot" are two different services entirely, and by using either service you are automatically agreeing to the terms presented in the document. Both documents are located at the URL referenced above, first
(A) Terms of Service for Blogger.com, and then
(B) Terms of Service for Blogspot.com.

(A) The Blogger.com TOS


1. Parties. Pyra.com Ltd. is the operator of the service and referred to as either Pyra or Blogger in the TOS. You, the user are called 'Member'.

2. Blogger is the service that publishes information (ie. NOT the host which is either your own provision or Blogspot). Member's own responsibility to connect to the internet. Duh!

3. If the terms change you'll be notified either by a start-up screen or at Blogger News on www.blogger.com. If you use the service, you agree to the terms.

4. Blogger can change or be discontinued at any time, with no notice and no liability.

5. Privacy. Member information is private unless you opt to share it with other Members or the public. Pyra will not monitor or disclose your information unless they are legally required to or in 'good faith' think that they need to, to comply with the law. They may also monitor or disclose your information if necessary to 'fix or debug problems' with the service!

6. Content Ownership - yours (Members). Content Responsibility - yours too. If you use Blogger to publish something it does not mean Blogger endorses the material.

7. Password and Security. Confidentiality is entirely up to you, Bud. Any 'activity' on your account is your responsibility. [This means comments too.]

8,9. Disclaimers. The usual stuff. Disclaiming all warranty obligations and liabilities to basically the fullest extent allowed by law. Don't even think about damages.

10. You are not allowed to 'resale' the service without consent. But to clarify, you ARE allowed to set up Blogs for clients and get paid for your time.

11. Not Blogger's responsibility if you delete or fail to store any information entered.

12. Member Conduct. Don't break the law, including US law about transmission of technical data exported from the US. DON'T use Blogger for SPAM, JUNK MAIL or CHAIN LETTERS, or NON-PERMISSION-BASED DISTRIBUTION LISTS.

13. Indemnification. If because of your use of the service (whether within the Terms of Service or not) there arises a third-party claim against Pyra or staff, YOU agree to INDEMNIFY Pyra. This ALSO APPLIES if someone else USES YOUR COMPUTER. [Example: a colleague at work makes public some intellectual property by posting it on YOUR Blog; if the owner of the intellectual property tries sues Blogger, they will come back to you.]

14. Termination. Can be immediate and without cause at any time and with no liability by Pyra. If you don't like the Terms of Service, to discontinue use is your only remedy.

15. Notices. Emails ok.

16. Promotions and Advertising. You are SPECIFICALLY PERMITTED to participate in promotions and advertising, showing products on the service. But all obligations and liability are down to you of course. [Adsense confirmed ok.]

17. Proprietary Rights. Content presented by the service (media, text, software, etc), if it is in Pyra sponsor adverts or commercially produced and distributed by email, is protected and you may only use it as authorized. Don't copy, reproduce or CREATE DERIVATIVE WORKS without expressly being authorized. [This doesn't appear to rule out making variations of official Blogger templates and distributing them.]

18. California Law applies. And if you have a gripe, you've got one year after any cause to take them to court.


(B) The BlogSpot TOS


Very similar structure. I'll pick out only the interesting (and humorous!) highlights.

1. The most current version of the TOS is at http://www.blogspot.com/tos.html. [Interesting, that it NOT where I got this document from. In fact, this URL does not exist!]

2. The Blogspot service is a 'convenience' for Blogger users who don't have a host.

I like this next bit:

Now, this next part seems really damn obvious, but everyone else has it in their TOS's so someone's probably gotten sued for not having it. So: In order to use the Service, you must obtain access to the World Wide Web,....

Duh and double-duh! But full marks for sense of humor.

4. Member Conduct. Don't: upload obscene or hateful material, harm minors, impersonate anyone, upload stuff that infringes a patent copyright or other rights, upload viruses or other malware, interfere with the service, break regulations of any national securities exchange, stalk anyone, collect or store personal data about other users, promote or instruct on illegal activies (including how to assemble bombs and other weapons).

5. It's YOUR content but PYRA may quote or reproduce small portions (of your public material) to promote Blogger.

10. [Interesting paragraph. This is the only clause in the TOS that refers to blocking anything. Hence it is the only clause that might refer in any way to removing the NavBar.]

You also agree that you will not attempt to block or otherwise interfere with advertisements displayed on your Blogspot site via JavaScript or any other means.

BUT: two things; firstly, this clause is directly relating to a previous sentence refering to 'advertisements and promotions' and the NavBar is clearly not such an advertisement (it is primarily for navigation and search functionality, hence 'NavBar'). Second, and very importantly, the paragraph is preceded by:

The following point (#10) DOES NOT APPLY if you opt for ad-free hosting, BlogSpot Plus 25 or Plus 100 service.

This paragraph seems to be left over from before Google bought Pyra and made the whole service ad-free. (I understand that in the original version ads were placed on your blog much like many free-webpage providers do.) Because today ALL Blogger+BlogSpot sites are 'ad-free' in this context, then this whole paragraph is almost certainly void.

12. More sense of humor. This is the Disclaimer section and it's in ALL-CAPITALS... quite a long paragraph, then you see this:

IF YOU HAVE READ THIS FAR THEN YOUR EYES PROBABLY HURT. ALL CAPS, WHAT WERE WE THINKING? HOWEVER, WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR THIS OR ANY OTHER OCULAR MALADY.

[It's a long time since I laughed out loud when reading a contract document!]

16. California law of course. And confirmation that the TOS constitute the entire agreement beween you and Pyra.

CONCLUSIONS and IMPLICATIONS


  • Use Blogger only for wholesome stuff. Don't spam.
  • You are responsible for your site (including comments). Protect your password, and think carefully about leaving comments un-moderated.
  • It is ok to remove the Blogger NavBar.
  • Don't trust the Blogger service to keep your content safe.
  • Don't trust the Blogger service not to disclose your personal information.
  • Potentially the new Blogger Beta service will need new terms, since there is no option to publish to external FTP hence the hosting funtionality is included by default.


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