Friday, October 28, 2005

Law and gOFFICE.com

I've been intending to write this post for several days now, but of course I keep putting it off or forgetting.

I wanted to revisit my whole gOFFICE.com post of a few days ago, and the comment from Nye! in response to my legal jargon confusion (and to express my gratitude for the legal information!). As a librarian, it is probably not a good thing that I do not know as much about copyright as I should, since that's one of the big legal issues we encounter. I do have some understanding of it, especially where it impacts my particular library, but not as much as I would like.

I re-skimmed over the Terms and Conditions as a result of Nye!'s comments, and I will still not sign up for a gOFFICE account. But for different reasons now. And here they are:

1. I am quite happy with Writely.com. I just forced (hehe) one of my coworkers into setting up an account so I could share a document with him and he could edit it, too. It's a great collaborative tool instead of emailing Word docs back and forth. gOFFICE does not appear to have this feature.

2. gOFFICE relies on ads to keep it free, and Writely does not. Of course, Writely may go "for fee" once it comes out of beta.

3. They will spam you and telemarket you (ah ha! I found out why they want your phone number!). Quoted from their Privacy Policy:
We may enter into strategic marketing alliances or partnerships with third parties who may be given access to personal information including your name, address, telephone number and email for the purpose of providing you information regarding products and services that we think will be of interest to you. In connection with strategic marketing alliances or partnerships, we will retain all ownership rights to the information, and we will not share information regarding your social security number or other personal financial data.
Perhaps I am interpreting this wrong, but I doubt it. It seems pretty blatant to me.

4. gOFFICE seems to be encouraging and even promoting the idea of an affiliation with Google that is simply not true. It gets its ads and search feature from Google, but nothing more. See the information in the article from PRNewswire located at Findwealth.com for more details. Of course, you have to scroll down below the huge picture of Donald Trump to see the info. Anyway, how is gOFFICE promoting this untrue affiliation, you may wonder?
a. On its own site, under "Press" it provides you, oh-so-conveniently, with a list of blogs that mention the word "gOffice", many of which link gOFFICE to Google. However, these are all older blog entries in which the blog author was speculating that Google would create a product such as this one and call it GOffice (notice the different capitalization). A cursory glance of the titles of the blog entries on gOFFICE's site does not make this clear and misleads the reader.

b. There is also the seeming gOFFICE / Gmail affiliation. What's the G for, eh gOFFICE? Why not WebOffice or OfficeOnline or something?
So, to sum it all up, I do not like gOFFICE. But I LOVE Writely!

4 comments:

Stacy said...

I'm a bit late to the (legal stuff) party, but I found this link resource today and thought of you:
Review of the EULAlyzer 1.0 on ResourceShelf. EULAlyzer analyzes End User Licence agreements for you (supposedly... tho, you'd probably want to read the fine-print here, too).

Kat said...

Stacy,
I found that today, too. I downloaded it and tested it out on gOFFICE.com. It found the paragraph about spamming and telemarketing but only actually tagged the very end of it about gOFFICE not sharing your financial data or social security information. It passed over the spam and telemarket stuff, so you'd still want to read the agreement.

I will try it out on a few other license agreements at some point, probably. It is really easy to use. You just have to copy/paste the license agreement ino the EULAlyzer.

Todd said...

Kat,
we share your privacy concerns at gOFFICE. We do not spam or telemarket. Documents you create and store on gOFFICE are yours--we do not edit, remove or tamper with these. We also admire Writely (as well as many web 2.0 apps), but would like to note that the sites offer different things. gOFFICE documents offer superior, printable, beautiful PDF output. We have unique letter backgrounds and hundreds of fonts. We have a thousand plus texts to help with writing--and also allow users to donate to the public text library. We do all of this with no download. We actually have significant traffic from libraries, as many libraries do not have office apps loaded on the public computers. Students use the site at these terminals to write class assignments--and they do not need to own a copy of Word to produce professional looking work. Please call if you would like to discuss these or other issues--or if you would like to suggest features you might find particularly useful--we like talking with gOFFICE users.

Kat said...

Todd,
I appreciate you taking the time to comment on my post gOFFICE. However, I am not convinced yet that gOFFICE is something I should sign up for. I think the product has a lot to offer and all the things you mentioned - tons of fonts, PDF capability, backgrounds, etc - are reasons I'd love to use it, not to mention the soon-to-be-available spreadsheet and presentation options.

However, despite what you said about not spamming or telemarketing, your Privacy Policy seems to me to say otherwise. Also, the selection of blogs included on the "Press" page tie gOFFICE to Google: the first one is entitled "What is Google?" and the last one is "What is Google up to?" The blog titles are not changing so I don't think it's taking a random sampling of blogs mentioning "gOffice". So you are promoting the idea of a link between gOFFICE and Google that is not actually there. Those blog postings linking gOFFICE to Google should be taken out of that list.

Originally I "googled" to find out if gOFFICE was a Google product and it took me a long time to find anything stating that it was not. There seems to be only one news article out there that actually clears up that perhaps all-too-common misconception.

However, I am planning to take your suggestion to call gOFFICE, but I want to check out the site more thoroughly first so I can be prepared with questions and quotes to back up why I arrived at certain conclusions about gOFFICE.

That said, I think it's great that you search the blogosphere for those bloggers posting about gOFFICE.