Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ArcGIS Online Terms of Service, Notes

With the plethora of cloud services being offered these days for hosting and analyzing geospatial data, it is important to know what we're agreeing to.  Unfortunately "the fine print" is still relatively dense.    With (ArcGIS Online) opening up their "subscription" service level to their higher ed site license clients, and more of our clients interested in hosting their research, I decided it was time to take another look at the fine print.

Here are some of the main points I took from the License Agreement (E204 06/24/2012) ... you'll want to focus on Addendum 3 (E300-3) which covers Online Services.  These notes should not be taken as legal advice.  I would recommend you check out the license agreement yourself at

Good Stuff

  1. Intellectual property -- it looks like Esri doesn't take ownership of any content.  It remains property of the licensee, the university in this case, and Esri only accesses for purposes of providing the service.
  2. Common sense: If you share your data or grant others access to edit it, they might use it or might alter your service.  You may want to adopt your own use restrictions, published alongside your data.
  3. After the license is terminated (e.g., if the university decided to stop our relationship with Esri, which would be a big deal) the licensee is granted a period of 30 days to retrieve their content -- after which Esri has no further obligations.
Bad Not Good Stuff
  1. The licensee (the university) has a limited amount of service credits.  Many of the functions of the subscription (e.g., tile caching and hosting) cost "service credits".  Once we approach 75% of credits consumed we will be notified.  Once our credits are used our subscription services will be suspended until we renew our credits.  For that reason the administrator (me) will be extra careful about who I grant access to use functions that consume credits.
  2. If you are using an evaluation subscription you must make sure to export your content before the evaluation ends, or it will be permanently lost.