Google Maps Platform new terms of service are not clear
Last month we published a post about the Google Maps Platform New Pricing Model.
We decided to write that post after we received an email from Google titled “Changes to your Google Maps APIs account”.
Reading that Google newsletter, it was 100% clear that the free usage of the Maps API was soon going to be a lot more limited than in the past.
It was also clear that prices were going to be a lot higher than in the past and that they required a payment method linked to your account (a credit card) to avoid getting restricted from using the Google Maps API.
What wasn’t 100% clear and nobody appeared to have paid attention to, was that all the Terms of Service are changing too and they are changing radically.
We realized this thanks to our member Craig, who opened this topic in our forum the other day and made us dig deeper: Changes to Google Maps Platform Terms of Service.
He made us notice a clause in section 3 of the Google Map Platform terms of service that sounds like a declaration of war to all online listings directories:
3.2.4 Restrictions Against Misusing the Services.
(c) No Re-Creating Google Products or Features. Customer will not use the Services to create a product or service with features that are substantially similar to or that re-create the features of another Google product or service. Customer’s product or service must contain substantial, independent value and features beyond the Google products or services. For example, Customer will not:
(iii) use the Google Maps Core Services in a listings or directory service or to create or augment an advertising product;
That goes into effect on June 11, 2018
What would happen if Google Maps blacklisted domains using their API for directories?
GeoDirectory users could easily switch to Open Street Map that we support 100% and that can be already used to completely replace Google Maps.
Because of this news, we also decided to start developing as soon as possible other integration with alternative maps providers.
Candidates are Bing, MapBox, Mapfit and hopefully even Baidu Maps for the Chinese market.
For other Directory Developers who are relying on directory plugins, themes and scripts that only offer integration with Google Maps, their website could show broken maps until their developers do something about it.
What is Google saying about this?
We contacted both their sales team and we created a topic in the Google Maps support forums to ask for more details and both suggested that GeoDirectory based websites will be allowed to keep using the Google Maps API, but none of them really gave us a straight answer.
Here you can see the answer from the Google Maps sales representative:
and here you can read their reply in the Google Maps support forum.
It would be great to have a straight answer, because every lawyers that I know and I consulted about this matter, came to the same conclusion:
With that clause in their terms of service, Google reserves the right to shut down access to the API to any directory anytime.
Providing “substantial, independent value and features beyond the Google products or services” is a broad definition and could be interpreted in countless ways.
Basically this leaves Google the power to arbitrary decide if your directory can or can’t use the Google Maps API.
What are your thoughts?
Considering that after June 11th it will be quite easy to reach the Google Maps API monthly free limits and that Google added such a dangerous clause in their Terms of Service for Directory Developers.
Will you keep using the Google Maps API or are you considering to move to Open Street Map?
If you don’t like Open Street Map, what would be your preferred choice? Please tell us your thoughts and preferences in the comments section down below!