Gmail Terms of Service Apply to reCAPTCHA During Account Formation–Rojas-Lozano v. Google

18 11 2015

Technology & Marketing Law Blog

August 28, 2015

Venkat Balasubramani

This lawsuit against Google alleges that Google unfairly benefits from deploying a CAPTCHA process when users sign up for free gmail accounts. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Google unnecessarily included a second image in the CAPTCHA, and it relies on users who sign up to freely transcribe “scanned images of books and newspapers, and also to decipher addresses found in images captured as part of [Google’s] Street View project.” The user is not compensated for having to transcribe the second image, but the complaint alleged that Google profited from its various digitization and transcription initiatives.

There was no dispute that the user signed up and clicked on the “I agree” to the terms of service in the process. The terms of service contain a forum selection clause, requiring disputes to be brought in the Northern District of California.

Plaintiff argued that the terms only applied to the Gmail service and the claims on the other hand arise from the reCAPTCHA service. The court rejects this argument, saying that the terms (and forum selection clause) apply to claims “arising out of or relating to” the services, and this includes the reCAPTCHA process as well.


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