If I make a Google Drive document publicly accessible, can others use that information as they wish or is there a license that applies? For example, if I record experimental data in a spreadsheet and generate a public sharing link, is this data now in the public domain available for any commercial and non-commercial use cases?

I chatted with the Google Suite support team about this but they did not know the answer...


2 Answers 2


From Google terms of service:

You may not use content from our Services unless you obtain permission from its owner or are otherwise permitted by law.

So the answer is no: other people cannot use your work as they wish just because you shared a Google Doc. (The "otherwise permitted by law" includes things like Fair Use concept of U.S. copyright law.)

The absence of a license does not mean "can use that information as they wish"; it's exactly the opposite. License is a permission to do certain things; if there isn't one, then no permissions are granted.

(Compare to Stack Exchange, where the user-contributed content is published under a certain license. That license gives others permission to, for example, redistribute or remix the content. There is no such thing with Google Docs.)


I am not a legal expert but making a document available via Google Drive would be the same as any other method of publication such as pinning it to a public notice board. I would imagine that you would still hold copyright on the document and its content. It may be advisable to include a dated copyright notice in the document though.

However, be sure that you have not infringed anyone else's copyright by including their material in your document!

Source: common sense!

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