Licensing for Embedded Google Apps (using Google Apps API's)

Posted on 2014-01-02
Last Modified: 2014-02-01
I've searched high and low but cannot find any clear explanation from anywhere on the internet regarding this situation.  Google's pages go around in circles without ever leading to a full explanation.  The situation:

Our web app displays a Google Spreadsheet in a sub-panel (iframe) and utilizes various Google API's (such as the Spread API) to access the data in the spreadsheet.  Our value-added includes specialized spreadsheet macros, javascript functions, and custom-developed graphing tools.  These tools provide customers with ways to analyze and improve business processes (through the use of statistical tools and other techniques developed by us).

My question:  As just described, does Google permit us to sell licenses of our web application without incurring royalties to Google?

Everything about Google says "yes, yes, use our stuff.  It's there for you.".  Most of Google's web pages have a footer area stating that the page content is under the "Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License" and/or the "Apache 2.0 License".  But in that context, they are talking about that given page's content . . . not about reuse or inclusion of their software within another 3rd part application.

We're not a big company with its on IP legal staff.  Can anyone help?
Question by:stgreenwalt
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Author Comment

ID: 39751014
Amending my initial post:  This URL comes as close as anything I've found regarding my original question.  In fact, it opens up more questions.  For instance, Google says,

"You will not sublicense an API for use by a third party. Consequently, you will not create an API Client that functions substantially the same as the APIs and offer it for use by third parties."

My interpretation, according to our situation, is that we wouldn't be sublicensing Google's API in any way.  We would be licensing ("selling") only the value-added or in-house-developed code that we wrote which happens to work in conjunction with Google products.  But they way they've worded things:  so much is subject to interpretation.

Again, any help would be appreciated.
LVL 53

Assisted Solution

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 250 total points
ID: 39751623
I *think* that you can't create an api that does the same thing using their services and resell it.  What you can do is create an application that embeds/frames google apps and utilizes the api's.  

I have tried to find ways to avoid using google in anything I created because they have a tendency to remove services or change the rules.  

I would word my contract that the service you provide utilizes google's application and your service may not work without that integration.   Include any fees (per the google console) that may be charged for the api's.  Also note that it is not your fault if google chooses to change or cancel the service that you have utilized.
LVL 14

Assisted Solution

by:Allen Falcon
Allen Falcon earned 250 total points
ID: 39753615
Your application using the APIs is not a sublicense.  Your users will need a Google Apps license to use the spreadsheet under your app.

Check out how to get you app in the Google's Enterprise Marketplace.  The rules are pretty straight forward.

Accepted Solution

stgreenwalt earned 0 total points
ID: 39811749
Here is a summarizing of how I interpret Google's API licensing with respect to embedding various Google API's (such as the Spreadsheet API) inside our application.  As I am not an IP lawyer, this is just my best guess and may contain errors.  In that case, please, someone at Google clear this up for the world . . . what you've published on these issues is very obscure.

Any use of Google API code (such as Google Spreadsheets API) within our program is acceptable to Google because:

Individiual users, by creating their own Google User Account, will be directly licensing those API's from Google.
It's OK for us to extend the functionality of a Google Spreadsheet by using API scripts and other means that Google has provided to customize the functionality, look, and feel of a Google Spreadsheet.
Credit will be given to Google in our license stating that underlying engine components are Google-owned, and that the user is obtaining license to Google products by virtue of estabslishing a Google User Account.
Our application can't appear to be a mere clone of Google's product with no value-added features having beend added on our part.
We retain ownership of value-added features and code writen by us (code that extends functionality of Google products) and Google does not make any claim on that code.
Our program must comply with various ethical, design, and other statements as publshed by Google.

Much of the above is my interpretation of information located here, along with the input of those who have commented on this question.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39826046
My own comment was accepted as part of the solution because it includes additional information that I discovered after further research.

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