Dropbox asks file sharing add-on to drop dead

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26 Responses to “Dropbox asks file sharing add-on to drop dead”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Rob, the code that auto-generates those emails when public access to a file is removed (if I’m reading that correctly no file was deleted, only public access to said file was revoked) is apparently a bit inflexible and always assumes that a DMCA takedown notice was the reason. It has apparently never happened that a violation of the ToS was the reason.

    The error is thus understandable and should be forgiven. I’m not ready to get worked up by it unless it happens again.

  2. Pantograph says:

    I am kind of glad now that I kept putting off signing up for Dropbox.

  3. txhoudini says:

    Why is this a big deal? Someone created software that violates DropBox’s TOS (using it for wide spread file sharing). DropBox does what it can to eliminate the software. What did Dropbox do wrong?

    • mcv says:

      What did Dropbox do wrong? Their mistake is not so much malice, but stupidity. Once it’s out there, you can’t get rid of software, and something like this only draws more attention to it.

      It would have been smarter if they’d focused on fixing their system so Dropship won’t work.

    • prh99 says:

      @txhoudini “Why is this a big deal? Someone created software that violates DropBox’s TOS (using it for wide spread file sharing).”

      If you use Dropship with your account, DropBox is within their rights to suspend or cancel your account. What they are not entitled to do, is attempt to DMCA the code off the internet because it violates their TOS or they just don’t like it. The DMCA is for cases of copyright infringement where you own or have the right to enforce the copyright being infringed.

  4. Gilbert Wham says:

    Hang on, isn’t DropBox already a filesharing tool?

  5. hassenpfeffer says:

    The first rule of using Dropbox is–you do not talk about using Dropbox!

  6. imag says:

    Can you really blame Dropbox for this?

    I mean, they are running a business that is not about anonymous file sharing. It is clearly outside their TOS. They have a legitimate concern about getting sued by the entertainment cartels.

    One could say, “they should stand up and fight!” – but anonymous sharing isn’t their business model.

    You could say, “they are crippling their service, because once it is technically feasible to allow something, that something should be a given.” Yeah – and my car can do 165, but that it is my god-given right to drive that fast on public roads.

  7. bascule says:

    Dropbox is an excellent service with software that works really well for me on PC, Mac and even has a little app that works on Android. It’s a bit too expensive for me to store all my photos on it but is great for keeping docs synced between my different machines.

    If Dropbox allowed Dropship to work then they (Dropbox) would be used the same way as Rapidshare. They would be sued out of existence just before they declared bankruptcy due to bandwidth costs.

    Just because Dropbox offers a free 2GB account to customers doesn’t mean that people should abuse that free account to pirate material.

    Anyone complaining about Dropbox not being willing to indiscriminately foot the bill for other peoples file sharing is not living in the real world.

  8. imag says:

    Please add “doesn’t mean” appropriately in the above post.

  9. ryxxui says:

    Not only is it against the reasonable TOS that people have to agree to to use Dropbox’s free service, but in all likelihood the increased load on their servers because of this type of sharing would make it so that Dropbox could no longer afford to provide free services or perhaps services at all.

  10. syphax says:

    Other than asking DiFillipo to take down comments at Hacker News, which isn’t necessarily wrong, but is a bit disagreeable, I don’t fault DropBox. They offer a service, that service has terms, and they don’t want to get caught up in a mess about filesharing (though I guess they now have).

    People need to remember the difference between censorship and being told no.

    I’ve used DropBox for a long time, and will continue to use it (though I do use TrueCrypt to pre-encrypt the sensitive stuff, which is a very small percentage of my DropBox files) even before the recent deal with file access came to light).

  11. Rob Beschizza says:

    Dropbox didn’t do anything wrong. It did something dumb: it said it sent itself a DMCA notice. This didn’t really happen, so it’s just funny, but it would have been a ingenious abuse of the DMCA had it actually used this device to get stuff removed from its own site.

    Also, Dropbox asking people to take stuff down from their own personal websites or from Hacker News (as opposed to removing stuff from Dropbox itself) is asking for trouble when there’s no actual infringement, libel, etc, no matter how polite you are about it.

    • codesuidae says:

      Dropbox asking people to take stuff down from their own personal websites or from Hacker News (as opposed to removing stuff from Dropbox itself) is asking for trouble when there’s no actual infringement, libel, etc, no matter how polite you are about it.

      Really? Why? I think it’s entirely appropriate for Dropbox to politely request that people voluntarily not distribute code which, when used as designed, violates the DropBox TOS and potentially creates quality of service issues for the company.

      In fact, that should be the first thing that they do, before they start throwing lawyers at people.

      • Vnend says:

        The article reports (sixth paragraph) that DB asked people to remove comments about Dropbox’s actions, not just the python script. That is a different kettle of fish.

  12. sidb says:

    The simple elegance of the method used for the sharing surprised me. That’s so clever!

  13. AudioTherapist says:

    I have to say I’m with txhoudini on this one. What is it with the consistent Dropbox bashing going on on BoingBoing? Seems out of character and overly aggressive to me.

    So they got the copy slightly wrong on their security blurb (http://boingboing.net/2011/04/21/dropboxs-new-securit.html) and it needed correcting. It’s hardly the same as evidence of active and deliberate wrong doing which is how BB seemed to be reporting it.

    And this one, could you be poisoning the well any more? If you have voluntarily signed up for a truly useful and flexible tool which you are paying nothing at all for is it not reasonable that they set some limits on the TOS?

    In the previous article you take them to task for being an incompetent, perhaps even sinister start up and now you are expecting them to take on the DMCA, ACTA et al single handedly and without funding. I appreciate BB uses different bloggers but the tone of both is suggestive of an overall editorial bias against DropBox.

    Use it for what it is. If you want more than that set it up yourself. Most hosting services offer a secure drive space as part of their package. I neither have shares in or any other relationship with DropBox other than as a user. As a user I am deeply grateful for many of its superb features such as iterative document back up which has saved my ass more than once and straight forward collaborative working tools.

  14. Rob Beschizza says:

    I’ve only ever praised dropbox before this post. I’ve posted at least twice about how much I like it!

  15. l.blissett says:

    @AudioTherapist:
    “So they got the copy slightly wrong on their security blurb (http://boingboing.net/2011/04/21/dropboxs-new-securit.html) and it needed correcting.”

    Security BLURB? People used DB to share private data between stations, because DB stated that they can’t decrypt your data and all of the sudden it turns out THEY CAN and possibly every nosepicking intern in DB’s data center can browse your private photos (if they lie about the decryption, how do we now if they don’t lie about access control?). This is not a case of “slightly wrong” and “needs correction” but of a massive break of trust. Complete failure. For most people I know, DB is out of business.

    • AudioTherapist says:

      Making a mistake is not the same as lying, pretty far from it. If you require an extremely secure service for hosting confidential data perhaps you are expecting a little much from something that costs you nothing.

      Rob. I appreciate you’ve made some positive comments in the past, and I’m not a DB apologist but it certainly seemed as though both pieces lacked a certain balance to their narrative.

      dculberson. I believe selection bias is the more accurate term, or possibly availability bias. Either way the facts if we are in possession of any at this stage don’t appear to show any evidence of active intent to deceive. Cack-handed mistakes yes, intent no. You get what you haven’t paid for…

  16. holtt says:

    Yea please enough with the DropBox hate. It’s a great service. They made a few dumb moves lately but … so what? If you think it was a malicious move (as opposed to a dumb move), then it’s news. If it’s just a dumb move (like oops ok we could have done that better) move, then forgive and forget.

  17. Anonymous says:

    We all know what greenwashing is.

    Dropbox, et. al, are guilty of “open-washing”. They posture and front as if they are part of the brave new world of new Internet / new media / open access / open source economies and in fact they are not.

    The simple fact is, Dropbox places itself in an adversarial relationship to its customers. You MUST use dropbox in a manner that doesn’t use up too much bandwidth and circulates content that promotes their business model. If not, you’ll get the boot, or you’ll be throttled down to nothing.

    Take a look at your provider – “cloud” or not – and see if you are paying on a per byte basis for the resources you use. If you are, your interests are aligned – you both have a vested interest in using as much as possible. If not, expect to be thwarted at every turn.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Did Dropbox know that Dan DeFelippi had this file in his own Dropbox by being able to read his content, or did they get this knowledge through the Hacker News post? (If it turns out to be the former, it raises all sorts of other issues)

    Either way, the file is springing up elsewhere:
    http://razorfast.com/2011/04/25/dropbox-attempts-to-kill-open-source-project/

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  19. Anonymous says:

    @txhoudini “Why is this a big deal? Someone created software that violates DropBox’s TOS (using it for wide spread file sharing).”

    What particularly bothers me is people keep pointing out “Dropship is open source!” as if that gives it some kind of free pass to be immoral. I was pleasantly surprised to see Boing Boing’s article _not_ trot out that point, because everyone else’s seems to. So, kudos Boing Boing, for recognising that being open source is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. This particular article is really good about focusing on the actual issue; Dropbox responded to the issue, in the heat of the moment, by throwing every response they could think of directly at the source. To be fair, I would have done the same thing. If you’re running a file hosting service, you do NOT want this sort of thing to catch on.

    (Disclaimer: I live an breathe open source software. The open source communities I know thrive on ethics, responsibility and copyright law).

    And yes, web services suck at PR and DMCA takedowns are horribly broken. Who knew?

  20. bcsizemo says:

    Are you serious?

    I’m sure people use DB for sensitive data, but frankly you are living in a bubble if you think that any data hosting service is going to be that secure.

    If you don’t own or have physical access to the drive/system where your data is going to be stored then the service has every ability to see what your data is.

    If I owned a company like DB I’m not sure I’d want to go down the road of NOT being able to see your files. Oh peddling kiddy porn, I don’t want to be caught up in an FBI sting that lands my company in hot water. (Not even sure that’s legally possible, but I still wouldn’t want to go there.)

    Like everyone else says, if you want your files secure encrypt them somehow. Someone could see your data, but at least they couldn’t actually see what it was.

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