Commit snafu slapped an irrevocable Apache 2.0 license on confidential API Docs.

Such old news by now btw. Been a ton of posts already

katy ✨
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it was either this or accidently drop the production database on friday

I feel like intent should matter? And authority? You can’t just leak information and say it’s licensed now. The person who published it both didn’t intend to do it and didn’t have authority to release it.

Ephera
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I mean, that makes sense, but consider the other side. You find some document that very clearly says that you have a license to do whatever the hell you want with it.

In this particular case, you probably heard the news, but in many other cases, you just couldn’t trust any license anymore, because there’s just no way to know whether something was intended to be licensed like that. It would pretty much defeat the purpose of licensing anything at all.

tuckerm
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Bleh, yeah I really hate to side with Google, especially when releasing this documentation benefits users and hiding it benefits Google.

It seems weird for this new license to be legally binding. If someone committed this to the wrong repo, and that person didn’t have legal authority over the original content, then how can they have legally relicensed it? I would think that it would be necessary for them to have ownership of the content in the first place.

Ephera
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Not sure, if this is precisely the same in the US, but here in Germany, employees act on behalf of their company. So, if you write such a documentation, your copyright is assigned to the company, but just as much, you’re allowed to license this copyrighted work.

In many cases, this is absolutely necessary to do for your daily work. Like, maybe your job is to work with external contractors that implement changes to these search ranking parameters.

There is some things, like entering a contract, which require a signature to be legally valid. And signing things, that is something that not everyone can do. But yeah, you don’t need a signature for licensing.

haui
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I‘m not sure of the legal implications but I would assume that a third party must not have to question the validity of a written license and therefore an action like this makes the person who did it responsible to google and the licensee. Just my impression though, IANAL.

I also feel like it shouldn’t be the only thing that matters.

You can’t license something openly and later say “oh we didn’t intend to do that. Sorry we take it back”

I miss the roflcopter.

You’re a bit late.

SEO is so stupid. You’re just trying to play a game with secret rules that are constantly changing.

Have you heard the joke about the SEO manager who walks into a bar pub saloon watering hole place to meet friends great cocktails beer on tap?

That’s not a joke a marketing executive would tell you…

AutoTL;DR
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This is the best summary I could come up with:


Google apparently accidentally posted a big stash of internal technical documents to GitHub, partially detailing how the search engine ranks webpages.

For most of us, the question of search rankings is just “are my web results good or bad,” but the SEO community is both thrilled to get a peek behind the curtain and up in arms since the docs apparently contradict some of what Google has told them in the past.

Google confirmed the authenticity of the documents to The Verge, saying, “We would caution against making inaccurate assumptions about Search based on out-of-context, outdated, or incomplete information.

The fun thing about accidentally publishing to the GoogleAPI GitHub is that, while these are sensitive internal documents, Google technically released them under an Apache 2.0 license.

That means anyone who stumbled across the documents was granted a “perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable copyright license” to them, so these are freely available online now, like here.

Both bits of commentary from the SEO experts make them sound offended that Google would ever mislead them, but doesn’t the company need to maintain at least a slightly adversarial relationship with the people who try to manipulate the search results?


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