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Dropbox receives criticism for DMCA warnings in personal file shares

updated 07:26 pm EDT, Sun March 30, 2014

Sharing copyright-infringing files on Dropbox shows DMCA warning for some users

Dropbox is preventing some users from sharing specific files over DMCA complaints, according to reports. A screenshot showing a folder on the cloud-based storage service with the DMCA warning has appeared on Twitter, which at the time of writing has been retweeted close to 3,000 times, with the user seemingly unable to share a file thanks to Dropbox's automated copyright-infringement prevention systems.

Designer Darrell Whitelaw told ZDNet he posted the screenshot because he had not seen it before. Whitelaw attempted to send a link to the file in question, an unnamed .mp4 video, to a friend over an instant messaging service, though the recipient saw the warning message instead of being able to access the file. It implied that the copyright of the file being shared is not owned by Whitelaw, and that sharing of the file was blocked immediately.

Screenshot showing DMCA warning on Dropbox
Screenshot showing DMCA warning on Dropbox


It is likely that the file uploaded to Dropbox by Whitelaw was not subject to a DMCA complaint in its own right, but it may have been triggered by another uploader. In order to save space and to prevent redundant copies of files, Dropbox uses de-duplication, namely keeping only one copy of a file on its servers instead of having storage capacity wasted by multiple users. It is possible that the file was subject to a DMCA request previously, and has subsequently been blocked from sharing for all other users that uploaded the same file.

A spokesperson said that Dropbox "sometimes receives notices to remove links on copyright grounds," and that links to files are processed and disabled when identified. The spokesperson also confirmed it uses "an automated system that then prevents other users from sharing the identical material using another Dropbox link."



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Leatherropes

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-02-11

    This shouldn't be a surprise. Don't pirate.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    So I can't send a friend of mine in another country a funny commercial? Bye Dropbox!

  1. efithian

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-21-04

    If you send a fair use clip, it will be flagged. If you encrypt it, no one will be the wiser. If it is not a fair use clip or other file do not bother. Give our artists their due rewards. They are a national treasure.

  1. Lynn_Fredricks

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-25-06

    Why would Dropbox receive a complaint about conforming with a law that's been discussed to death on the Internet? They have to do it in order to maintain their safe harbor and avoid lawsuits.

  1. Chongo

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: 08-16-07

    I wondered how long it would take. I noticed the file sharing bit in one of the Samsung Galaxy commercials that mock people waiting in line for the new iPhone. It's the one where they touch phones and use NFC to share music. Has the "Music Police" filed any complaints about that little feature?

    Samsung Galaxy S3 Ad - YouTube

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    It's been in the policy agreement forever.

    I checked with them, because a huge portion of my work revolves around being able to share material in project folders among participants of those projects, and their reply was basically "don't violate fair use".

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