PC World ran a comprehensive piece yesterday (including some analysis from yours truly) on the quirks of Google's terms of service and how the company claims a license to a whole bunch of user content across multiple products (Chrome, Picasa, Blogger, etc.).
Some people have wondered why I think Google won't use this license claim in a more affirmative fashion - as the argument goes, what's to stop Google from taking advantage of some particularly valuable piece of content that gets posted to Blogger or Picasa? I mean, what if the movie version of Corporate Tool is a global blockbuster - how can I be sure that Google isn't going to capitalize on my success?
Two reasons: First, Google's primary concern with having a license is to avoid operational or legal problems in running its site. It doesn't want to have to worry about copyright clearance or the like when making changes to its sites or products. Why does this matter? Because there is a fundamental difference in the strength of the company's claim between this "defensive" use and any use of the claim proactively to establish IP rights.
Secondly - and related to the business judgment that would make Google think twice before using its license claim proactively - Google is a multi-billion-dollar behemoth that makes money hand over fist, at unbelievable margins, from its advertising sales. Do you really think they'll see a viable business opportunity in pursuing a shaky-at-best licensing claim to your beach photos?