In my recent article on using wikis in the contract-drafting process, I suggested that a simpler way to capture the collarborative aspect of wikis without any of the anarchy would be to use an online-collaboration tool such as Google Docs.
So today I noted with interest an article in Legal Technology entitled “Time for Lawyers to Collaborate in Real Time.” It’s by Brett Burney (a consultant) and it discusses various ways lawyers can collaborate online on a document and avoid the inefficiencies involved in, for example, trading comments by email.
6 thoughts on “Real-Time Document Collaboration”
Egads. I hope to Dog that no one uses Google Docs for lawyerly things. That would certainly be a huge no-no. Just look at the Terms of Service license (https://www.google.com/accounts/TOS?hl=en):
Content licence from you
11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.
11.2 You agree that this licence includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.
Mike: Jeepers! I agree that that’s a good enough reason to steer clear of Google Docs for anything that’s at all sensitive. And a reader has pointed out another problem: that Google Docs stores indefinitely a copy of your document. But Burney’s article discusses other alternatives. Ken
Real-Time Collaboration Tools have two drawbacks: they are real-time, meaning that every involved party has to be looking at a screen at the same time, and there is no tracking of who made what change.
A better alternative are what I would call: web based change tracking. Rather than sending documents around as email attachments, you put the document on a website. Microsoft Sharepoint allows you to do just that, then merge all the changes into a Word file and then you can use revision tracking to track and approve each change. Litera has this perfected further with their IDS product: http://www.litera.com/HTML/intelligent_document_management_software.html
also see: http://legaltech.com/cblog/index.php?/archives/13-LegalTech-2006-Most-Useful-Technology.html
I believe the terms above are the general terms for Googles services. Below is the corresponding section for Google Docs & Spreadsheets. It addresses part of the issue but not all of it, as the following wording still makes it possible for Google to disclose your docs to the public:
“Google reserves the right to syndicate Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services and use that Content in connection with any service offered by Google.”
Google claims no ownership or control over any Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services. You or a third party licensor, as appropriate, retain all patent, trademark and copyright to any Content you submit, post or display on or through Google services and you are responsible for protecting those rights, as appropriate. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, modify, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services. Google reserves the right to syndicate Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services and use that Content in connection with any service offered by Google. Google furthermore reserves the right to refuse to accept, post, display or transmit any Content in its sole discretion.”
Thanks to the two Martins for their comments. I’ll be looking into Litera. Ken