I'm pretty sure I've seen stuff suggesting that Dropbox occasionally purges copyrighted files from its system (which is made super-easy by the hash fingerprinting system that it uses to deduplicate storage) so I agree that this is not likely to meet most people's use case for torrents; i.e. stealing copyrighted music and films.
Arash (the CTO) asked me to, in a really civil way. So I decided to respect his wish and take down the repository.
Myself, I really regarded dropship as a nice feature. As Dropbox had implemented the great idea of putting all humanity's data in one big hash-addressable vat, sharing is a logical extension. If you would cache the popular blocks locally (dropbox already does this in a way with LAN P2P), global data distribution would be pretty much a solved problem.
Obviously, this affects legal and illegal files in the same way. It's really a shame that people are still so obsessed with the illegal applications, that they become blinded to how useful this is for legal ones.
Yes, as I kind of hinted at in my post, the main reason is that they don't want the stigma that is associated with file sharing.
Even though there is a lot of (social) legal sharing going on between users, the focus is always on illegal sharing. He has a point there, though I think it's a pity.
IMO it's not even that suited to piracy, as the deduplication means that they can find everyone that has a file! Torrents are way better for that.
The principles of dropship could be used for sharing photos, videos, public datasets, git-like source control, or even as building block for wiki-like distributed databases. The possibilities are endless when every file can be called up with just its hash.
There is a way around this. Charge the person sharing the file a certain amount of money after a certain bandwidth (rather than the person downloading the file). This would virtually prevent large scale piracy without preventing many other usages.
I've been doing the same, but on a very small scale. Mostly sending a funny episode of some show to a group of friends or occasionally sending a movie to my folks. I don't doubt that if I was mass distributing these files it would attract attention.
Also, wouldn't breaking the hash nullify one of the ostensible advantages of this method (the de-dupe of the stored files)? If the goal is solving global file distribution, making each copy of every originally-identical file unique - and therefore requiring n times the storage - isn't a viable solution.
How do they decide which copyrighted content to delete? The files in the Dropbox are by default not public. Merely having copyrighted files in your Dropbox is certainly no violation of copyright law.
At which point does it become illegal? Is sharing it with one or two people ok? I would think that even putting it in your public folder is not necessarily illegal: What if you don't share the link publicly (or only with one or two people)?
Services like Rapidshare thrive on those ambiguities. They let you upload any file and give you a link, only after this link really becomes public will they take down copyrighted content (which introduces a time delay).
I have actually never seen that happen with Dropbox links (which, I think, is the right strategy for them: It would be bad for their brand if they were to become "that piracy website"), so they must be doing something different.
Copyright law is quite a bit more complicated than that. It's at any rate not only the copyright owner who is allowed to make a copy. You can, for example, rip your CDs and copy those files on your HDD as often as you want.
Actually strictly speaking under the copyright law in this country, you cannot. It says "all rights reserved" on my CDs, and one of those rights is literally the right to copy. Bear in mind these laws were written a long time ago, when consumers did not have the means to make unauthorised copies, to prevent mass infringement.
Can anyone give a reference for this or indicate if it's true? I use Dropbox to backup my purchased music downloads; the thought that when my hard disk crashes, I can't restore them from my Dropbox because they might have been "purged" is rather worrying.