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Dropbox Now Allows Public Sharing of Files


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The cloud-based file sharing service Dropbox has added a feature that allows people to share their files with others via a link and display them on a web browser with no download needed.

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Dropbox has announced a new way for users of its cloud-based file storage service to share their files with others. The company announced today that its subscribers can now send their friends a simple web link to show off their pictures, videos and documents without the need for their friends to download any of those files.

This new feature will be helpful for businesses who might want to share some presentations or documents with others who don't have a Dropbox account and don't want them to actually edit those presentations. It can also be used for more personal activities such as showing off vacation pictures to friends quickly or sending a link of a home video to someone without the person on the other end having to download that video.

Dropbox still allows its users the option to allow friends or business workers to download or directly share any of their stored files. In its announcement, the company states:

Don’t know when to use links instead of shared folders? Here’s our advice: if multiple people need to edit the same set of stuff, a shared folder is best. If not, then links are the way to go! Linking is much faster, and it’s also the best way to make your content shine on the web.

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Dropbox users can now share videos, picures and documents to friends and family who don't need a Dropbox account.

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Here's a bit of news that should get the MPAA all fired up: Dropbox now offers public file sharing.

On Monday Dropbox announced that it has added a public file sharing option to its virtual locker service, allowing users to send links leading back to documents, photos, and videos to anyone, whether they're Dropbox members or not. Previously users could send links, but the recipient needed to create a Dropbox account in order to view and use the files.

"Dropbox links allow people to easily view documents, photos, and videos in a beautiful full-browser display without any setup," the company explains. "Business presentations, home movies, and even entire folders can be opened and viewed instantly without having to sign in, download anything, or open files separately."

In the Dropbox desktop, mobile and web-based applications, the "Get Link" button creates a unique link to the desired file or folder. The link can then be sent to other users -- if they're already a Dropbox member, they'll have the added option of saving the file to their own Dropbox virtual locker.

"Anyone with the link gets access to a snazzy page where they can view (but not edit) your stuff," the company said in a blog. "Our gallery pages give your photos, videos, and even docs the gorgeous, full-browser view they deserve. This means that people who follow your link can see pictures, look at presentations, and watch home videos without having to download and open them separately."

The news arrives just before Google reportedly launches its own virtual locker service, Google Drive. Little is known about the service at this point save for that it will start with 5 GB of free storage. Given the new Dropbox feature, it's easy to assume that Google Drive will also provide a public file sharing option. Google Drive is slated to launch on Wednesday or Thursday although Google hasn't officially acknowledged a street date.

Just recently Dropbox announced that Bono and The Edge from the popular Irish band U2 are now investors in the company. The two reportedly came across Dropbox when they were building a project on Facebook. Once Dropbox raised $250 million last year, the duo decided the online storage business might actually be profitable.

"We're always looking for ways to make life easier and solve the basic problems people face everyday," said Drew Houston, CEO and co-founder of Dropbox. "Sending files has always been a painful process, but now with Dropbox, sharing with friends, family, and colleagues is effortless."

:view:Original Article: Tom's Guide

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Threads merged. However, I like your title more so used that one. :)

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Dropbox, Welcome to the Megaupload club

Dropbox has painted a giant target on its back by offering one simple, additional feature to its file-storage service: a link-generating button to enable public file-sharing.

As file storage favourite Dropbox adds the option to turn private files it stores into public, linkable content, it has overnight transformed into a de facto file-sharing service.

The trouble is that nothing seems to differentiates Dropbox from any other file-sharing website, including troubled Megaupload.

Megaupload was shut down for among many things, criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. Its executives were arrested and the extradition process began within hours of their detention. The company continues to battle its case despite reports suggesting the prosecution’s legal case is close to collapse.

In a similar set of circumstances, 23-year-old British student Richard O’Dwyer is to be extradited from the United Kingdom to face charges in the United States — though his website and server was in Europe, and the UK previously ruled on a similar case which deemed his activities legal — for hosting a link-sharing website. No copyrighted content was hosted on his site, but mere links pointing to U.S. movies and television shows.

Dropbox chief executive Drew Houston concedes that sharing documents, pictures, and files on the Web to anyone you know — regardless of whether they are in your social network or not — is still “bafflingly, still really difficult.”

All good and well. But what truly separates Megaupload’s or O’Dwyer’s case from Dropbox?

Nothing does. Here’s why.

A user uploads the latest episode of House to their Dropbox account, and enables the link-sharing feature. They then share the link with a few friends and they download it. Or, they submit the link to a link-sharing forum — and there are plenty of them, rest assured — and hundreds or thousands go on to download it.

Maybe Dropbox gets suspicious, or maybe it blocks the file on upload for infringing copyright. Or it fails to, and like the recent YouTube case in Germany, is forced to shell out for a more stringent filtering system. Either way, Dropbox will all but inevitably end up in court.

Or, someone takes to another file-sharing site to upload copyright infringing files and takes a note of the link. Rinse and repeat a dozen times. They then create a document that contains links to other file-sharing sites. It could then be shared by friends and family, or even to the wider community.

That list alone uploaded to Dropbox would be illegal under U.S. and now UK law, and could lead to extraditions and prosecutions of not only the infringer, but a mass copyright suit in Dropbox’s inbox.

Dropbox is no different from any other file-sharing site. It allows users to upload files, and it allows them to share the files by way of sending others’ links to that file. The file can then be downloaded and redistributed either on Dropbox or elsewhere.

It has no legitimacy, nor does it have legal protection. File-sharing is big business, and Dropbox makes hundreds of millions if not more. It was estimated to generate at least $240 million in 2011 alone, and its revenue comes from premium accounts offering additional storage and enterprise clients.

Granted, it isn’t quite a referral scheme, in which users can upload content — most of it often infringing someone’s copyright, such as television shows, movies and music — and generate revenue based on how many clicks and downloads are made which ultimately draws in traffic for the site. But it makes money from those who upload large files or require vast spaces to store their content.

RapidShare, which for years ran a similar referral scheme, denied this week violating copyright laws, and released a “responsible practices” manifestofor cloud storage companies. RapidShare, along with Dropbox, could kick off infringers off its site, and even report repeat infringers to law enforcement.

But who would use a service that may issue false positives and lead to unfounded allegations and investigations based on a third-party’s suspicion?

Dropbox had for over a year fringed on becoming something more than it was. But the reality is that Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Google Drive could fall to the same fate. SkyDrive offers public linking, and Google Drive is expected to offer a similar feature to which its sister service Google Docs also offers.

What do Microsoft and Google have that Dropbox doesn’t? Money to install heavy-duty, zero-tolerance copyright catching filters, and the money to pay for lawyers when it inevitably blows up in their respective faces.

Or it shows an entirely different picture. If Dropbox, and other file-sharing heavyweights like Microsoft and Google all offer file-sharing capabilities, perhaps its time for the MPAA, RIAA, and the rest of the “copyright cartel” to back down and concede that it cannot repackage the plague that emerged from Pandora’s box.

Update: Dropbox offered this statement after publication:

“Dropbox explicitly prohibits copyright abuse. We’ve put in a 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.”

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