Yesterday, stories covering Dropbox's new sharing feature pointed out how the feature made the Dropbox service similar to other cloud storage services, such as Megaupload, that have been accused of harboring piracy. Today, Dropbox is in damage control mode and is responding to critics. They are detailing how the Dropbox service differs from other cloud sharing services and what features they have implemented to combat piracy.
Public Relations firm Allison & Partners, on Dropbox's behalf, has released a definitive statement about Dropbox's commitment to making sure the sharing feature is not used for copyright infringement:
“Dropbox explicitly prohibits copyright abuse. We’ve put in place a number of measures to ensure that our sharing feature is not misused. For example, there’s a copyright flag on every page allowing for easy reporting, we place bandwidth limits on downloads, and we prohibit users from creating links to files that have been subject to a DMCA notice. We want to offer an easy way for people to share their life’s work while respecting the rights of others.”
As a commenter to the previous article pointed out, the Dropbox bandwidth limits for public links will certainly help to curb widespread piracy through dropbox. Dropbox help pages state that the bandwidth limit for publicly linked files is 20 GB per day for free accounts and 200 GB per day for premium accounts. Links that hit these limits are automatically suspended. This will handily curb the amount of copyrighted video and music that can be shared through Dropbox, but other material with smaller file sizes, such as ebooks, could be still be shared widely before hitting that limit.
The other anti-piracy implementations mentioned in the statement, copyright flags and responding quickly to DMCA notices, are things that other cloud storage services already practice. In fact, responding to DMCA notices is required by law and was also practiced by Megaupload, which was shut down earlier this year by the U.S. Justice Department.
The fact is, Dropbox is doing everything right - but it's still not enough to stamp out pirates. Any method of sharing files on the web will be used to transfer copyrighted material, and cloud storage services will have to constantly respond to copyright violations. Making services such as Megaupload, or potentially Dropbox, responsible for their users actions is the real problem. Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom also thought the DMCA gave sufficient safe-harbor protections to storage services.
Even Google, which will soon launch its Google Drive service, will have to contend with the same issues and has already dealt with some of them because of YouTube. That's probably the reason it weighed in on the court case against Hotfile last month.
What do you think? Is Dropbox doing enough to curb piracy or are they in danger of copyright lawsuits? Let me know in the comment section below.