These eSignature Beta Terms apply to your use of the pre-general release version of Google Docs and Google Drive's beta feature for electronic signature of documents (“eSignature Beta”).
Google is not a party to documents executed with the eSignature Beta
Any document executed using the eSignature Beta is only between the parties to that document. By using the eSignature Beta, you are consenting to conduct transactions electronically through the service with the other party to the document.
You control who you do business with
If you are sending a document for signature, make sure you send it to the correct person’s email address and that they have the authority to execute the document. Make sure you confirm the document is shared with the right people before sharing for signature. If you are receiving a document to sign, make sure you have confirmed the sender’s identity. Anyone that has access to an email account receiving an eSignature request (with or without permission of the account owner) will be able to sign it until the link expires (such as if the signature request is canceled). Additionally, Google account holders who update their email address will be able to sign documents you sent to their old email address (assuming the new and old emails are both tied to the same underlying account). So, you should ensure that the right person is receiving the link and signing. Be aware too that your counterparty may need to agree to Google terms before signing the document.
You control the contents of your documents
You are solely responsible for ensuring documents you send or receive through the eSignature Beta for execution represent the complete and final understanding of your agreement with your counterparty.
Each party should review and agree on the draft of a document before it is executed through the eSignature Beta. Don’t make any changes to the document without informing the other party and giving them a chance to review the changes before the document is executed. As part of finalizing the document with the other intended party, all suggested edits and comments in the document must be resolved before execution. Also, don’t add a comment to a signed PDF file, it could create a new file that affects the integrity of the underlying agreement or otherwise cause confusion for you and your counterparty regarding the final agreement.
You control what documents are executed
While electronic signatures in many jurisdictions can often be treated as the equivalent of a traditional wet ink signature, you are responsible for ensuring that your particular contract may be executed electronically. Please consult a lawyer if you have any questions about the use of electronic signatures for your contract in your jurisdiction and to confirm any other requirements a party needs to comply with when executing a document electronically.
Not all documents will be eligible for electronic signature in every jurisdiction. For example, common categories of documents that jurisdictions will require wet ink signatures for are trusts, wills, codicils, powers of attorney and deeds. Consult with a lawyer in your jurisdiction to ensure any document you are planning to have executed through the eSignature Beta will be enforceable in your jurisdiction.
During this beta period, any document sent for execution using the eSignature Beta might only be capable of adding one signature field. If only one signature field is in the document, only the person who accesses the signature request link will be able to add their signature to the document. In those cases, the person sending the document and the person signing the document will each be a party to the finally executed document. If either person is acting on behalf of a legal entity when sending or signing the document, then that entity would be a party to the document instead of the individual. If the other person is supposed to be acting on behalf of an entity, you should make sure that person has the authority to bind that entity to the executed document.
Copies and storage of electronic documents
While Google will attempt to send an email to all parties with a copy of the executed document and place a copy in each party’s Drive accounts, Google cannot guarantee that all parties will receive such copies. For example, your (or your counterparties’) email settings may prevent receipt of the copy. As a result, you are solely responsible for retaining a copy of the executed agreement for your own records and for confirming with your counterparties that they have also received a copy for their records. You should retain any email you receive from the eSignature Beta that contains the executed document as it may be useful later on for helping to establish what was signed.
Not all parties may receive copies of executed documents (e.g., copies may not be sent due to technical error or spam filters could reject the email with the executed copy.) So, follow-up with parties to ensure that everyone received a copy. If the executed document remains accessible to parties through the eSignature Beta, ensure that you and the other parties have retained a separate copy of the document before deleting the file or changing access permissions.
Google cannot guarantee that a copy of the executed documents will always be available through its services (e.g., in the case where you delete your Google account). To ensure you retain a copy of all documents executed with the eSignature Beta, you should independently store a copy of all executed documents.
Because the eSignature Beta is a pre-general release offering, there is a chance that you could lose online access to or not receive a copy of a document you executed. Do not rely on the eSignature Beta for online storage of your executed documents - make sure to retain a separate offline copy after execution. Note too that during the pre-release period, you should not rely on Google’s standard export process to obtain copies of signed files, as those files will be an unsupported data type.
Business uses only; Same Jurisdiction
You may only use the eSignature Beta for business purposes and not for any personal, family or household purposes. You must also only send to (or execute contracts sent from) counterparties that are in the same legal jurisdiction as you.
Signature Information and Document Access
Copies of documents executed with the eSignature Beta contain certificate-based signatures that help identify the parties. The accompanying document metadata (and any audit log that may be provided by the eSignature Beta) may include the email address of each party as well as other information about the document, the Google account (like a pseudonymized identifier tied to that account), the device used by the party (like IP address) and other details (like time and date). Anyone with access to the underlying document will have access to this information along with the signed document.
Adobe Reader and Acrobat warning
If you use Adobe Reader or Acrobat to open a document signed with our eSignature Beta, you may receive a warning about issues with a signature in the document. Adobe’s statements regarding validity of signatures relate only to the certificate Google uses to digitally sign the document and do not relate to the signing party’s signature.
You can avoid seeing this warning by manually selecting to trust the certificate (which is named “Google <firstname.lastname@example.org>” using the following steps:
You should ensure that you and your counterparties have access to any executed documents before deleting. If you choose to delete documents created or signed with the eSignature Beta, it may take longer for us to remove all associated material than other Drive material while in pre-general release.
There may be heightened enforceability risks associated with use of documents executed with the eSignature Beta in your jurisdiction. You should consider these risks with a licensed attorney before using the eSignature Beta.
Any information and warnings provided in these terms regarding the enforceability of electronically signed contracts are for general information purposes only and are not intended to serve as legal advice. Google cannot and does not guarantee that use of the eSignature Beta will lead to an enforceable contract in your jurisdiction. You should consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction if you have questions about use of electronic signatures and electronic contracts.