Dropbox Adds Key Feature That Supposedly Made Megaupload Illegal: Link To Download

from the warning-signs dept

Popular cloud service provider Dropbox has announced the ability to share stuff in your Dropbox with a link. This is not a revolutionary offering. It's actually pretty common and can be quite useful for simple sharing of files. But, as Mathew Ingram noted, this is exactly part of the reason that Megaupload was accused of criminal conspiracy. For example, the fact that Megaupload did not provide a "search" feature to find all the content in its cloud, but merely let people link in, was seen as a way to "hide" the fact that infringing material was available. I am assuming -- given the way Dropbox operates -- that it, too, is not intending to provide a search engine. It's good to see Dropbox confident enough that it won't be shut down on questionable criminal charges -- but it certainly continues to raise questions about what the government considers evidence of criminal conspiracy... and how that could create a chill on companies who are, perhaps, less well established than Dropbox. Update: As some have pointed out in the comments, the specific feature is more about viewing content via the link, not downloading. Sorry, we should have been clearer. However, again, this fits with the Megavideo style offering of providing access to content without necessarily downloading it. Still appears to be exactly the part that so concerned the Justice Dept...


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  1.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:24am

    Sigh

    At least with Dropbox your content is duplicated by default, so gov't takedowns will be somewhat mitigated.

     

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  2.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:25am

    Tomorrow's article = MPAA accuses Dropbox of facilitating piracy.

     

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  3.  
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    John Doe, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:27am

    Google Docs works this way to

    Google docs and I imagine countless others works this way. Would be a shame to shut down this feature on every site it is used on because it "could" infringe. Cars can be used for drunk driving but I don't want to go back to horse and buggy because it "could" be used for that.

     

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  4.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:28am

    Re: Google Docs works this way to

    Not to mention the danger of drunken horses pulling your buggy...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:30am

    I wasn't sure at first glance how this differed from the function of the Public folder, but it looks like these links go to a web viewer of sorts so that the people you share with can view the content in a browser instead of directly downloading it.
    Although, that still doesn't clear up for me how this is more controversial than the public links.

     

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  6.  
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    Mr. Smarta** (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:31am

    Can't please the entertainment industry... ever.

    The entertainment industry constantly states that these cyberlockers simply don't go far enough to curb the 'piracy'. The lockers remove the ability to share, to search, etc. etc. and it still doesn't go far enough. You just can't please them.

    Handing over all root and administrator passwords isn't going far enough. Shutting down the lockers isn't going far enough. Shutting down the internet isn't going far enough. Taking a sledgehammer to the hard drives and blowing up the planet isn't going far enough. The entire universe imploding in on itself isn't going far enough.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:31am

    Re:

    Tomorrow? You newb, I give it till end of day east coast time.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:33am

    Chris Dodd is coming!

    comin after your pictures, your documents, your videos, all up in this shit!

     

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  9.  
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    crade (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:36am

    Re: Google Docs works this way to

    Who cares what you want? It's what the MPAA and RIAA want that matters, and they say no frickin changes and new stuff!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:38am

    so how long before the entertainment industries try the same game with Dropbox, then? how long before the politicians realise they are being taken for complete twats again and stop backing up those industries when they come out with all this 'i dont like what you're doing, so i'm suing you for copyright' crap!

     

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  11.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:40am

    about what the government considers evidence of criminal conspiracy

    Do you own a computer? Yup there it is, they have a computer. You have the right to...[uncontrollable laughter]
    YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS! Now shut up and get on the train. We have new facilities built just for you. Our internment, uh, holding facilities, are state of the art.

     

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    Cerberus (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:42am

    Linking is not new: only the gallery view

    Linking to individual files anywhere in your Dropbox has been possible for a long time, perhaps six months. The only thing new is that, where you used to have to download a video file from this link, you can now watch the video on a page provided by Dropbox, streamed. PDFs can now be browsed on a page too. That's nice, but it's not the same thing as what cyberlockers do: Dropbox has been able to do that for a while with individual files, and it has been possible for many years with the Public folder.

     

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  13.  
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    T. Helastlaff, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 10:51am

    Hekkuva job, Copyright Cartel dinosaurs!

    What a horrible nightmare the Copyright Cartel has created for itself by being such obnoxious greedy bastards, practicing artificial scarcity and failing to adapt to the modern age in any meaningful way.

    And they just don't learn: every time they whack a mole, 4 more appear. And they'll whack again. And for each one they whack again, 4 more will appear. And so on ...

    They can buy all the additional governments that they want. It won't help them. It's too late. They're dealing with the next generation now. And the next generation has no need for them and their ancient "ways".

    Sir Richard Branson (" with an estimated net worth of US$4.2 billion" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Branson ) said himself years ago in an interview that the biggest business mistake he ever made was to try to start another record label (which tanked massively) like did with Virgin Records (which helped kick his empire off) and that the heydays of labels were past.

    I don't even have to theorize about the subject any more - the evidence is plain to see. People would not so long ago have paid for good quality modern formatted and distributed content, but no - the old men that ran the ever-diminishing number of labels would not let this happen. Ignoring demand, they created a massive vacuum that has long been burst. So the people solved the problem themselves. And in a classic case of "still missing the boat" the relevance of the old industry withers. Filesharing continues to explode and sympathy for dying dinosaurs continues to wane.

    In less than a decade, they have moved me from a fierce advocate of their self-appointed "rights" to someone who cannot wait to see them vanish form existence.

    Hekkuva job, Copyright Cartel dinosaurs!

     

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  14.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:03am

    Re:

    That depends on how much longer the Judge lets them hold onto the property of Megaupload in the case they screwed up.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:05am

    "This is not a revolutionary offering. It's actually pretty common and can be quite useful for simple sharing of files."

    Actually, it changed the use of drop box dramatically. It's not "pretty common", it changes your storage from a private thing into an open, public thing.

    Downplaying the implications isn't helping.

     

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  16.  
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    DogBreath, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:05am

    Re: Can't please the entertainment industry... ever.

    Handing over all root and administrator passwords isn't going far enough. Shutting down the lockers isn't going far enough. Shutting down the internet isn't going far enough. Taking a sledgehammer to the hard drives and blowing up the planet isn't going far enough. The entire universe imploding in on itself isn't going far enough.

    If we could only get Rodger Bumpass reading this out loud in the transformed Hanover Fiste voice from the Heavy Metal movie, my day would be complete.


    All I can say is thank goodness Captain Stern didn't get charged with violating copyright... Heavy Metal Captain Stern & Hanover Fist

     

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  17. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Bill Williams, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:14am

    To all you tech geeks, stop ruining the peoples lives who create content. We're all trying to co-exist and play in the sandbox together. We have it WRITTEN IN OUR CONSTITUTION to protect intellectual property ideas. Hence why there is a Library of Congress. Stop getting your panties in a wad about blaming the entertainment industries. FIND A SOLUTION. Stop bitching. If someone stole your computer that you built at home and shared it for free I bet you'd have gripes about it. As far as I'm concerned, stealing and distributing a song that's worth $2000 ( or whatever that threshold is) or more (or has earned) should be prosecuted for GRAND THEFT in my opinion.

     

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  18. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Bill Williams, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:15am

    To all you tech geeks, stop ruining the peoples lives who create content. We're all trying to co-exist and play in the sandbox together. We have it WRITTEN IN OUR CONSTITUTION to protect intellectual property ideas. Hence why there is a Library of Congress. Stop getting your panties in a wad about blaming the entertainment industries. FIND A SOLUTION. Stop bitching. If someone stole your computer that you built at home and shared it for free I bet you'd have gripes about it. As far as I'm concerned, stealing and distributing a song that's worth $2000 ( or whatever that threshold is) or more (or has earned) should be prosecuted for GRAND THEFT in my opinion.

     

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  19. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Bill Williams, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:15am

    To all you tech geeks, stop ruining the peoples lives who create content. We're all trying to co-exist and play in the sandbox together. We have it WRITTEN IN OUR CONSTITUTION to protect intellectual property ideas. Hence why there is a Library of Congress. Stop getting your panties in a wad about blaming the entertainment industries. FIND A SOLUTION. Stop bitching. If someone stole your computer that you built at home and shared it for free I bet you'd have gripes about it. As far as I'm concerned, stealing and distributing a song that's worth $2000 ( or whatever that threshold is) or more (or has earned) should be prosecuted for GRAND THEFT in my opinion.

     

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  20.  
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    BeeAitch (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:16am

    Re:

    Except it's not theft, it's infringement, dinosaur.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:18am

    Re:

    Fortunately for those of us living in reality, your opinion is wrong.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:19am

    Re:

    As several other users have posted, sharing of folders and files has been possible on Dropbox for years. This includes being able to generate and share a link to a file listed in your Public directory on Dropbox.

    So, no, none of this has "drastically" changed the use of Dropbox. Overstating the implications isn't helping, either.

     

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  23.  
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    Fin, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:21am

    Re:

    Hey Bill;

    Get off your soap box. I am a content creator I give my things away for free and make a decent income from donations.

    The law needs updating to reflect the fast pace of the new world media. IP and copyright need massively downgrading to 6 months allowing for registration for 3 years (allowing for a real fair use) for works that can demonstrate they have made above say $100,000

    You computer analogy was a load of crap, get with the times!

     

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  24.  
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    Doug B (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:23am

    Re:

    LOL get a clue. And please refrain from repeating the same inane drivel over and over again. It hurts my eyes.

     

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  25.  
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    MrWilson, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:24am

    Re:

    The public folder already allowed file sharing. This change just makes viewing in the browser possible. Not that significant a change.

     

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  26.  
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    Kaden (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:25am

    Re:

    As others have noted, the public link option has been in DropBox for years. The only difference is apparently streaming access vs downloading.

    Please explain why this makes such a dramatic difference.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:27am

    NEW???

    Dropbox has had that feature as long as I have used it. A couple of years. I have used it for distributing spreadsheets to people in a group that needed the information on them. Granted I haven't used that feature since about August of last year, so they might have deleted it when Mega was shutdown and now be reintroducing it.

     

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  28.  
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    Dirt_is_Fun (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:30am

    Different Conspiracy Theory

    If I was running DropBox, I'd think that bringing my biggest most well established competitor up on charges for "criminal conspiracy" would be a great way to prevent them from ever generating the kind of brand image needed to compete with me in the mass market.

    Lobbying dollars well spent...get the Justice Department to discredit my competitor, using the RIAA/MPAA as a convenient scape goat!!

    Isn't that what regulatory capture, in this case IP Law, is all about? Using the government to keep competitors from beating me in the marketplace?

     

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  29.  
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    Dirt_is_Fun (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:32am

    Re: Different Conspiracy Theory

    this is a joke BTW.

     

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  30.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:38am

    Re:

    Sorry your comment is not funny.

    You are simply put an a__-hole for providing information and encouraging enforcement against a website that could lead to my "legal" content becoming unavailable to me.

    For that reason I think you should be banned from TechDirt.

    Now I am going to have to find another place to store my "legal" content and share it.

    BAN YOU!!!!!

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re:

    Yeah, but give techdirt one day to write the article.

     

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  32.  
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    bknabe, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:50am

    Re: Google Docs works this way to

    Nice thing about horse and buggy is if you pass out, the horse usually either heads home or stops and munches the foliage. 'course you have to watch where you step more than with cars...

     

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  33.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re:

    Marking this is insightful, not for the "ban" thing, but for the issues surrounding cyberlockers.

     

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  34.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:54am

    Re:

    stop ruining the peoples lives who create content


    What are "tech geeks" doing to ruin the lives of people who create content? This is a very serious question, because outside of the the pirate community I can't think of a single instance of anything that comes close to such a thing.

    Stop getting your panties in a wad about blaming the entertainment industries.


    I blame the major entertainment giants for things they're actually doing to harm me. I'll stop being angry about that when they stop doing it.

    FIND A SOLUTION.


    Find a solution to what? To the troubles that some content creators are having? If so, then the tech industry has presented quite a few technological tools that can help, but in the end, we have neither the ability or responsibility to solve that problem. It can only be solved by the content industry.

    If you're talking about finding a solution to the attack on the general public and the tech industry in particular that the major entertainment industry is engaging in, then we're working on it.

     

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  35.  
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    I-Blz, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re:

    I think you mean "DING DONG BANNU!"

     

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  36.  
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    el_segfaulto (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re:

    It hurts your eyes...and the collective IQ of the Western world.

     

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  37.  
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    G. Immeabrake, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:59am

    For Those Who Still Don't Get It

    The "major" record industry is finished. It's too late and its their own fault for not adapting.

    The "major" movie industry is in great danger of falling into the same traps and dying.

    So are a few others.

    As to things being written into the american constitution - I'm lucky enough not to an american, so I really don't give a rat's ass. But if I did, I'd point out that 1) governments that create constitutions may be fundamentally corrupt and even if not they are constantly subjected to corrupting influences and 2) any constitution is based solely upon things as they are known at that point (unless you believe that people have the ability to see the future, in which case I suggest you seek "medical" help immediately).

    Adapt or die.

    It's that simple.

     

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  38.  
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    Ruben, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 11:59am

    Re:

    FIND A SOLUTION.


    Au contraire. It's the entertainment industries' responsibility for solving their own problems. Despite having no obligation to do so, we are giving constructive suggestions, and placing the blame squarely (and fairly) on their shoulders for failing to adapt to the changing world.


    If big players in the entertainment industry are dying, it's only deservedly so because they did not evolve as the world changed.

     

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  39.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That was my point. Laws define content in a way that does not truly count legal methods.

     

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  40.  
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    rubberpants, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 12:08pm

    Re:

    Computers have been able to copy files from one to the other since 1977.

    It's actually pretty common.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re:

    I say we create our own entertainment market. Hell, we already did. It's called file sharing. Let them burn all lonely and broke.

     

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  42.  
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    JP, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this thread is now dumber for having looked at it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

     

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  43.  
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    Hak Foo (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Can't please the entertainment industry... ever.

    Of course they wouldn't want the universe imploding. It's been clear for years how they feel about mashups!

     

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  44.  
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    Cowardly Anonymous, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 12:16pm

    Re:

    We have it WRITTEN IN OUR CONSTITUTION to protect intellectual property ideas.

    Let's look a little closer at what we have written in the Constituion:

    Congress has the power to restrict the right to copy provided
    1) It is for a finite time
    2) It is done to "promote the progress"

    There is no requirement to protect the income of those generating expressions or ideas. Further this power has to be balanced with the provisions of the first amendment, where the first amendment takes precedence where a conflict arises.


    Also if you wanted to peacefully co-exist, why the constant attacks on:
    The public domain
    The democratic process
    The internet
    Open source
    Indy creators



    If you want the solution to piracy, it is simple:
    Ignore the pirates and focus on increasing the willingness to pay for your stuff from the group that is both willing and able to pay for something.
    The pirates aren't going to ever pay you enough to support your business, no matter how hard you try to force it out of them. They just aren't worth your time and effort.

     

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  45.  
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    Richard (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 12:28pm

    Re:

    If someone stole your computer that you built at home and shared it for free I bet you'd have gripes about it.
    Someone is trying to steal my right to make a computer at home and do what I like with it. Unlike your scenario I do lose something real.

     

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  46.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 12:34pm

    Re:

    As far as I'm concerned, stealing and distributing a song that's worth $2000

    Worth $2000 to whom? There isn't a song out there that I am willing to pay more than $0.99 for.

    The rest of your comment is really, really silly. Copyright is not a Constitutionally protect right. The Constitution simply give Congress the right to enact copyright laws. Which also means Congress can revoke, change, replace and even remove copyright laws.

     

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  47.  
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    Bill William (Buck) Williamson, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 12:40pm

    Re:

    *fart* {sniff} 'ahhhhh'

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    Huh? Lots of the cloud storage/sync providers like Box and SugarSync have had public links to direct files for years.

     

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  49.  
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    Machin Shin (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    I personally think my computer is awesome and if someone COPIED my computer and gave it away for free I would personally think that rocked. I bet there would be a lot of really happy people too. It takes a little bit more care than average computer but it is nice.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re:

    I would say that, content that is accessible in a streaming format via a link on the drop box site might shift their business model from one of storage to one of broadcasting or distribution. It would be even more so if they are charging viewers for access or "see the end" type options.

     

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  51.  
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    Machin Shin (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re:

    In fact if someone wanted I would even be willing to sit down myself and write up instructions on how to put it together and what parts I used. I sadly don't know of any place to get the parts for free, but the plans on how to make an exact COPY (you know, like how people COPY music and movies) I would be happy to hand out. I would even include pictures.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 1:17pm

    Tuesday April 24 2012.
    FBI take down of dropbox for conspiracy,money laundering, ect O_O RIP :(

    Friday Dec 10 2032
    Revolution and massive worldwide uprising finally happens after bill to install crime prevention bombs in a persons asshole passes.

    Scary shit right! I tell you the shits going to hit the fan someday.

     

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  53.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 1:34pm

    Re:

    I am surprised that it takes 20 years in your scenario. At the rate the US is going, I can see mass protests that eclipse the Occupy movement is less than 5.

     

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  54.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Meh.

    From where I sit, there is no difference between "downloading" and "streaming". I can watch videos while they download, so in terms of viewing the difference between the two is purely academic. Likewise, I can save anything I stream as a normal media file, so again, the difference is academic.

    I recognize there is one minor difference: in a stream, you can "skip around" in the content, as you allude to with your "watch the end" comment. But this alone is hardly a major feature, certainly not a game-changer.

     

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  55.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re:

    +1 on the Billy Madison reference.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 2:20pm

    Re:

    I have rights in the Constitution too: Free Speach, Assembly, Right to bare arms, Fair Trail... but you think your right (and its not a right, the Constitution gives Congress the "right" to make laws concerning Copyright, not an instant monopoly right) trumps every ones rights, and you can do what ever you want to "support your right" and trample all the rest in your zeal...

    Hurry up as an industry and go away so we can get on with making the technology you so love (last time i checked Apple by its self is bigger than the music industry, so who does the world really love?)

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Re:

    I hate to say it, but i am kinda hoping so (because maybe people will make up to HOW bad the parties and their "leaders" are screwing them)...

     

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  58.  
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    Mikael (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 4:31pm

    This is nothing new

    As a few others have stated, this is nothing new at all and sites like this really shouldn't be acting like it is. This is the third tech blog site I've read about this on and each one is talking about how dropbox is going the way of megaupload because of this.

    I've been using DB for a few years now and you've always been able to do what is being done now with files in the Public folder. Even video files in the Public folder could be streamed from the public download link if you have the right video player installed for that file. The only thing this adds is the ability to link any file from any folder, puts them in a nice little viewing page, and gives you a "Download" button and a "Add to my Dropbox" button.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 4:33pm

    Re:

    The day after, FBI surround google complex

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 4:36pm

    BREAKING NEWS: FBI, has not surrounded google complex, and yes, (looks out window), the sky is STILL blue

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 5:50pm

    Re: Re:

    It's like the Steven Wright joke: "someone stole everything in my apartment and replaced it with exact replicas..."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 6:32pm

    Re:

    The constition only presents copyright as a option, it is not a requirement: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/misinterpreting-copyright.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    icon
    Kaden (profile), Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 7:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You're pretty heavy on the 'ifs' and 'mights' there, Sparky.

    Makes for a less than convincing argument, but if that's all ya got, that's all ya got.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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