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Can Augmented Reality Put Your Intellectual Property Up For Grabs?

Google recently announced their new “Augmented Reality” glasses, codenamed “Project Glass,” featuring a Heads-Up-Display (HUD) that can do everything from providing GPS-enabled navigation, telling you the weather forecast, giving you internet-based information about what you’re looking at in real time, and letting you take pictures and share videos. Take a look at their concept video which is, admittedly, only a demonstration of what the Google Glasses “might enable you to do.”

What happens, though, if an author or software designer wears their Google Glasses while writing or programming? Google’s new all-encompassing Terms of Use document states that “You…retain all patent, trademark and copyright to any Content you submit, post or display on or through Google services…” However, the next sentence reads:

“By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, modify, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services.”

Because the glasses are essentially a wearable computer and multimedia recording/publishing device, “displaying Content” could have a wider definition than most users realize; users could have the ability to look at and publish directly to the Google-enabled internet what (in our real world) is now protected Intellectual Property (IP). Their terms of use policy gives Google the right to edit, repackage, reuse, resell our lives and livelihoods to further their own corporate interests and generate traffic and revenue. In a similar way to how Google can now direct advertisements your way based on online behavior (browser history, cookies, “likes,” purchases, click-paths), with Project Glass we may see further eradication of privacy, as Google would be able to productize users as they live their lives “out loud.”

This technology is world-changing, but the terms of use surrounding the intellectual property and privacy issues need to be modified (or clarified) before Project Glass makes its way to the public.

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