The “cloud” disk provider, ‘Dropbox’, for those that are not aware, is a service available from free to $100/yearly which has an application that runs with a userid/password which provides a disk which the user can place files in. These files are available, and downloaded/synchronized, from any other computer with the application running and the same userid/password. The service was a wonderful thing, and still is, as it provides a feature of every machine being a redundant copy of the file(s) used along with being a “cloud” (not your disk, in other words) and being available at all times.
Well, Dropbox made the mistake of sending a DMCA takedown notice for an open-source application named ‘Dropship’ written to connect to the Dropbox service. The DMCA is a legal item which was created in the 1990’s during the Clinton administration, and is a blanket protection against copyright infringement. In this case, it was a vague shot across the bow, so to speak. The case stated is that the hash being used to provide authenticity is too close to theirs, which violates the DMCA act. No laws are available to allow copyright of hashing, nor mathematical algorithms as they are not tangible items.
Obviously, with the amount of people that use open source products, and the shear number of users which use Dropbox AND Dropship, this was direct confrontation with their user base. With the situation that their pricing scheme is mediocre at best. (free for 2Gb, 50Gb for around $100/year, and 100G for $240/year) Adding in this double punch, along with the other options available (even the most low-life company, Microsoft, has better offers with Skydrive and LiveMesh, geez)
I am a customer (well, USER is the proper word since I’m not a paying customer) and I was looking at alternatives to Dropbox last night because of some inside feeling of an “all eggs in one basket” kind of situation. Well, I guess this ties that one up… I’m going to be checking out another open-source tool about the same named, “Sparkleshare”. This one is in it’s beta state right now, and offers the ability to house your own server which allows synchronization across laptop, desktop, and server without any data ever leaving the house. There is also the option of using github, Gitorious, and the GNOME project as a folder location. (obviously you’d have to create accounts through these places) An interesting feature is the ability to roll-back a file to a previous version in case it was edited/changed incorrectly. Did I mention it’s open-source? There’s also a Mac beta available now, which is why I’m even talking about it. Of course, there are many other non opensource varieties which outprice Dropbox such as SpiderOak, Google Docs (paid version), and many others which can be found on Google with a search for “cloud disk”.
The greatest thing about the internet is that it routes around obstructions. I’m thinking Dropbox just put a big ol’ “Obstruction” label it’s head.