Friday, April 19, 2013

Google's Glass ToS allows it to brick sold or even loaned Explorer Editions

There was some degree of trepidation that the Supreme Court might rule against the first-sale doctrine's application on foreign-made goods. Considering that most manufacturing is outsourced, it could have created nightmares in terms of resales of used iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and far more. Fortunately for eBay, that didn't happen, but that doesn't mean others can't restrict your resale rights. Witness Google Glass, as reported on Wednesday.

If you are one of the lucky ones to have received the first shipments of Google Glass Explorer Edition, which began arriving on Tuesday, be aware: the Google Glass terms of service (you did read them, didn't you) won't allow you to resell the device -- or even loan it to someone.

Corynne McSherry, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s intellectual property coordinator, said she didn't believe Google was doing anything outside the law.
If it takes off like iPhones did, this is going to be part of people’s everyday activity, and now we are starting down this path that is going to be completely controlled. It’s not clear to me what they are doing is unlawful. It’s a contract issue.
In the case of the Explorer Edition smartglasses, these could still be considered early adopter prototypes. Likely, Google wants to keep the devices under wraps.

Google will be aware of a transfer to another person, because each pair of smartglasses has to be linked to a user's Google account (typical of anything Google does). Of course, for loan purposes, someone could just hand the device over and not transfer it to a different account.

Those who are caught under the ToS risk have their devices bricked, remotely, by Google. The ToS section says:
You may not resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person. If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Google's authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty.
The first indication that folks needed to be aware of the ToS restriction came after a man put his Google Glass Explorer Edition smartglasses up for auction on eBay. He had "won" the right to buy the device, for $1,500, during Google's recent promotion.

Ed, who didn't want his last name published, fearing a post-promotion rejection from the program, said that although he put the glasses up on eBay, he did not hear about the restriction from Google itself, but instead from the Glass Explorers Google+ group.

At the same time, he found that some were upset that he would sell, rather than use his Google Glass device.
People were acting like I had did something sacrilegious.
After discovering the restriction, he took down his eBay auction. He started the sale at $5,000 and it had already grown to over $90,000. He added that no one from Google or eBay had contacted him about the auction.

In fact, he said, the only contact he had from Google was a message on Twitter saying he had been selected as part of the program, which he received weeks ago. His reason for the auction was, of course, monetary:
After getting a message on Twitter from Google saying I had been selected as part of the program a couple weeks ago, it just came to mind if they are giving out to a limited number of people, I could put it out there on eBay and sell it for a lot more than $1,500.
Ed is concerned that Google will change its mind about including him in the program -- which it has already done for others -- and he still wants the glasses.

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