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Dropbox TOS Includes Broad Copyright License

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the want-it-both-ways dept.

Data Storage 213

mrtwice99 writes "Dropbox recently updated their TOS, Privacy Policy, and Security Overview. Included in the TOS is the following statement: 'By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent we think it necessary for the Service.' I think Dropbox is a great service, but what is the significance of granting them such broad usage rights?" Elsewhere in the same Terms of Service, which are a few notches above the norm in both brevity and readability, Dropbox says both "Dropbox respects others’ intellectual property and asks that you do too," and "You retain ownership to your stuff."

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So they wont get sued by asshats (4, Insightful)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640596)

It's the usual clause companies have to put now a day so that some asshat won't sue them for millions of dollars even if the service providers offered the services like advertised. Dropbox probably needs this clause to show your content in a public link that you link to others. Youtube and any other user submitted service has similar clauses. The law probably needs fixing, but that isn't the companies fault - blame the asshats abusing it.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (2, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640620)

Has nothing to do with that. Simple disclaimers fix that. They are doing it to profit off what they don't own.

Oh well, my account is now deleted, not my problem anymore.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (0)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640706)

By law they cannot copy or broadcast your content without your permission (ie. share when you give link). You know, all that copyright stuff. Boohoo for them to actually ask you to give them your permission to do that.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640802)

If I make a journal entry, uploading it to slashdot gives them permission to post it. It does NOT give them permission to reprint it in a printed magazine or another site. This clause gives them permission to do anything they damned well please with your material.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (3, Informative)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640832)

You might want to read Slashdot terms before making such statements because

In each such case, the submitting user grants Geeknet the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, all subject to the terms of any applicable license.

Slashdot (and whole Geeknet) license agreement is actually even wider than Dropbox, as they don't even limit it to as-required-by-service.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (5, Informative)

John Bresnahan (638668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640994)

Maybe I'm missing the point, but when I post something to Slashdot (such as this) my intention is to make it available to the public at large.

I haven't used Dropbox, but I didn't think it had a similar purpose. I thought it was more like a cloud-based hard drive.

I see a significant difference between the two.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (2)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641016)

Correct. I have a Dropbox account, and that's exactly what it is, although it also has utility as a file-sharing service as well. You can create and designate folders as "shared with other users" and "shared with guest users (for people without an account)". Folders so designated will allow anyone to download files in those folders.

So when I post on Slashdot, my intent is clear -- I'm making what I type available to the public at large. But this is also true for files that I put in my folders that are shared with guest users.

OTOH, this license grant doesn't seem to make such a distinction. Perhaps it should.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (2)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641070)

"to the extent we think it necessary for the Service"

They would have to go to court and argue they were stupid if they wanted to claim they needed to publicly share files you had marked as private.

(or publicly share files that had not been explicitly marked for sharing, I guess defaulting to private would be more sensible)

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641136)

Well, many people myself included use it as a quick place to share files on irc, im or forums and as a image host. Dropbox has many functions that supports sharing too, like picture galleries. I do save a few backup files there, but encrypted.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36641018)

The TOS change is scary enough for me to cancel my Pro50 account. I don't want them to think they have any ownership of my data no matter what they put into their TOS.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641300)

They are claiming rights they do not need to perform the services they are providing. It's probably because their lawyer suggested that they claim more rights than they actually need and throw in the "to the extent we think it necessary" clause as a buffer (and not because they plan to use them), but either way it's wrong to do, and I'm going to tell them so.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (3, Interesting)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640716)

Has nothing to do with that. Simple disclaimers fix that. They are doing it to profit off what they don't own.

For example? And by 'example', I mean an example of something they are actually doing and not just something you think they could conceivably do.

These sorts of clauses are almost always about trying to legally protect the way the site/service works. Why would Dropbox think it could just take your shit and sell it (what you seem to think they are going to do here)?

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640814)

Has nothing to do with that. Simple disclaimers fix that. They are doing it to profit off what they don't own.

For example? And by 'example', I mean an example of something they are actually doing and not just something you think they could conceivably do.

These sorts of clauses are almost always about trying to legally protect the way the site/service works. Why would Dropbox think it could just take your shit and sell it (what you seem to think they are going to do here)?

There is no breach of trust, no corporate abuse, no amount of legalese overkill that someone somewhere won't excuse and apologize for.

What the hell do you think a license is for? It is precisely for what you could conceivably do. It is not a mere hypothetical or else it wouldn't be in the license fucking contract. They wouldn't have bothered to consult a lawyer to put it there if they had no intention of ever using it. God damn, you have to explain the most basic things to some people...

Just ask yourself why Slashdot has no such agreement. Somehow Slashdot manages to scrape by without this "essential" clause. What makes DropBox so fundamentally different? Oh yeah, they want the ability to profit from works they did not produce without compensating the creator of said work. That's the only purpose of such a clause. Put your head in the sand if you need to.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (3, Insightful)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640828)

Just ask yourself why Slashdot has no such agreement. Somehow Slashdot manages to scrape by without this "essential" clause.

You might want to read Slashdot terms before making such statements because

In each such case, the submitting user grants Geeknet the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, all subject to the terms of any applicable license.

Slashdot (and whole Geeknet) license agreement is actually even wider than Dropbox, as they don't even limit it to as-required-by-service.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640920)

There is no breach of trust, no corporate abuse, no amount of legalese overkill that someone somewhere won't excuse and apologize for.

Ain't that the truth.

And I willingly grant Slashdot the rights to all of my comments and journal entries because I think it's a worthy service and my comments and journal entries ain't worth shit.

I don't know dropbox well enough yet to give them rights to any content I might upload. Hell, I was using dropbox to share musical work with my collaborators. Fuck that. They've got to change the agreement before I'll use it again.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640956)

Don't worry. As a musician you are supposed to get by with merchandising and live shows. You can also offer your stuff for download from your web page and "ask for donations". If you are a songwriter, I think a musician is supposed to pay you (somehow). Other than that, people get free access to your work. Or at least that is my understanding from reading slashdot every day.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36641080)

Hell, I was using dropbox to share musical work with my collaborators. Fuck that. They've got to change the agreement before I'll use it again.

And if they DIDN'T include this clause in their terms of service, the fact that they COPIED, DISTRIBUTED, and PERFORMED (if your collaborators used the in-dropbox player to listen to your file) your work... you could sue them for copyright infringement.

So basically, your response to them saying "You can't sue us for doing what you told us to do with your files" is "Well then fuck you! Why are you so evil?"

You should be much more wary of the Facebook TOS which says that if you upload to Facebook or any of it's associated services you transfer all rights you may have on that material IN FULL to Facebook for ALL PURPOSES for ALL TIME and that you relinquish any such rights to that material you may hold.
(Yes; if you take a picture of a mountain, upload it to Facebook, and then sell it to a magazine (and Facebook finds out), Facebook will sue you (and win) due to the fact that Facebook owns that picture and you do not. Thus your sale of it to a magazine was copyright infringement and fraud.)
I know an author who lost the entire first chapter of her book this way. She uploaded it to Facebook in order to share it with her publisher. Facebook then sued her (and won) when her book was published. She now owes Facebook ALL MONEY she ever made on that chapter (a portion of her portion of the sales) AND over $100,000 in attorney fees that Facebook spent to sue her out of her own hard word and creativity.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (2)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641232)

I know an author who lost the entire first chapter of her book this way. She uploaded it to Facebook in order to share it with her publisher. Facebook then sued her (and won) when her book was published. She now owes Facebook ALL MONEY she ever made on that chapter (a portion of her portion of the sales) AND over $100,000 in attorney fees that Facebook spent to sue her out of her own hard word and creativity.

I have a hard time believing this anecdote - I suspect you just made this up.

If true, it should have been all over the news, given that stories about the 'dangers' of FaceBook are fairly popular. A story about how FaceBook wants you to upload your IP so they can sue away your rights for their own profit would be making the rounds in no time.

Provide some links to valid news articles describing this case or I'll have to call this a fictional fabrication.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640928)

In addition to the fact that you just got totally schooled by a quotation that /. (Geeknet) does in fact have an even broader version of this agreement: Dropbox wouldn't function at all without it.
One of the key things about Dropbox is that they are able to save both on bandwidth and storage by keeping one copy of a popular file even though a million people have it in their Dropbox. They then just keep a hash to see if your copy is different than the link version.
"Worldwide" is required because people can access Dropbox from anywhere.
"Non-Exclusive" is there in order to show that you retain rights to your files/IP and can sell or grant them to others.
"Royalty-free" is required so that if you are the first to upload a file, and then someone else uploads the exact same file, and person 2 then "re-downloads" the file to another computer YOU (as the rights-holder of the first upload) cannot sue Dropbox for royalties for that copy (or any further ones)
"Sublicenseable" is required because a part of the Dropbox storage is hosted on Amazon servers. Without a sub-license, Dropbox wouldn't be able to store your files on those leased servers without risking a lawsuit by you against them (Dropbox)
"Copy" is required to show specific rights for the copies in the whole "1 copy stored, each user with that file just links to it" as well as the new copy created when a user downloads their dropbox to a new computer.
"Distribute" again is required for the sending of a copy to a computer. Otherwise they could make the copy and then you could sue them for transmitting it.
"Prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions" is required so that you can use those neat tools like viewing files in the Dropbox app on Android/iOS. When Dropbox changes a "Microsoft Word 2010" file into something the app can read/edit it is a "Derivative work".
"Perform" is required so that if you upload an mp3 and then listen to it on another device you cannot sue them for the illegal "performance" of your copyrighted work.
"Publicly Display" is required so that when you share one of your Dropbox folders as "public" they can put that listing in the public directory without another specific release from you.
"To the extent we think it necessary for the Service" is their way of softening this so that you both "don't get the wrong idea" and so that you CAN still sue for copyright abuse if they use the above clauses in an abusive way.

So what part doesn't make sense now?

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (2)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640978)

Yeah, the phrase "To the extent we think it necessary for the Service" would not be a terribly good defence for Dropbox if they took a user's screenplay and sold it to Disney. Sure they could try to argue that making money from selling a user's screenplay is necessary for "the service" but they'd be very lucky to find a court that would accept such an interpretation.

I don't see anything iffy here. DropBox are securing the rights to provide their service without being sued by some chancer. This story is pure Daily Mail style scaremongering. Coming up next, man sues his broadband provider because the packets he was sending to Slashdot traveled via a series of third party routers instead of being sent directly to Slashdot.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641090)

The problem with that phrase is the 'we think' part. That implies a subjective judgement and it makes Dropbox the sole arbiter of whether something is required for the service or not. The parenthetical clause is also quite concerning, because it's redundant given the sublicenseable qualification. The entire quoted section was obviously not drawn up by anyone with any legal training (or, if it was, by someone who should be disbarred before they can do any more damage).

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641222)

True, but there have to vagueness. Would it be more reasonable to simply say "whatever us necessary to provide the service", and then refer to the definition if the service? This would seem safe so long as users have the right to have their data if the service should change in an undesirable way?

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (5, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640864)

You seem to have missed the part where it says, "...to the extent which we think it necessary for the Service." I think they would have trouble convincing a judge that allowing someone you did not designate access to your copyrighted material without your explicit permission for Dropbox's profit was something they legitimately thought was "necessary for the Service."

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (0)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640794)

"The usual clause" is just plain bullshit. Defending your copyright against plagiarists, or those who would take what you volunteer for free and commercialize it, is NOT being an asshat. I don't see any such disclaimer at slashdot. If I did I certainly wouldn't be posting short science fiction stories [slashdot.org] in my slashdot journal; a couple hundred more of these and I'll publish them in book form (so far there are only four).

Yet another reason not to store anything important in "the cloud".

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640818)

I don't see any such disclaimer at slashdot. If I did I certainly wouldn't be posting short science fiction stories [slashdot.org] in my slashdot journal; a couple hundred more of these and I'll publish them in book form (so far there are only four).

Then you might want to read slashdot (and Geeknet) terms and stop posting because:

In each such case, the submitting user grants Geeknet the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, all subject to the terms of any applicable license.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (2)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640904)

Youtube and any other user submitted service has similar clauses.

You realize the way that clause is written that you could use Dropbox to send a draft of your novel to your editor and Dropbox could publish it. Regardless of the intent, there has to be narrower language that would work. They could add something like "in the context of the service" which means their publishing rights are limited to the service itself.

They might need the clause, but they don't need anything nearly that broad.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

siride (974284) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641170)

You also missed the part where it says: "to the extent which we think it necessary for the Service."

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641214)

I didn't miss that part. It's their opinion if publishing your novel is necessary for the service, it still doesn't say in what context or state the intent.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

siride (974284) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641262)

Seems to me that it'd be hard to argue in court that publishing your novel and selling it has anything to do with carrying out the service, or that it'd be reasonable for them to expect ("think") that it would be necessary. Sure, lawyers are good at twisting things, but this would be a tough one.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641314)

Yeah, your right it would be a stretch. Still, would it hurt to add a little clarity as to the intent? We don't want to get sued as publishers, so within the context of the service blah, blah, blah.

As a contractor I work on contracts all the time. You don't have to always wrap them in legalese. State the intent, the limitations and consideration in plain language.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

siride (974284) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641350)

I feel like that's exactly what they did. It's all along the lines of: we want to store your stuff, but unfortunately, to do that we need the rights to it or else it'd be considered infringement, so we are going to ask for the rights needed to store your stuff (which they list). No fancy legalese, intent is stated, limitations are stated in plain language ("to the extent which we think it necessary for the service").

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640936)

Yes, but they are reserving the rights to do what ever the hell pleases them, not just what they need. A propper Terms of service can be seen on box.net, a dropbox alternative:

"By registering to use the Services, you understand and acknowledge that Box.net and its contractors retain an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use, copy, and publicly display such content for the sole purpose of providing to you the Services for which you have registered."

I would recomend anyone out there who's using dropbox to start looking for alternatives with non-insane TOS. Maybe this will get them to rethink this overreaching of rights.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

mrtwice99 (1435899) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641030)

mod parent up!

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (4, Insightful)

iamwahoo2 (594922) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640970)

The summary missed the true problem which is that this TOS requires that the user hold copyright or right to grant a license on the material in question. Which means you can only put up original content, public domain, etc... Legally purchased MP3s cannot be uploaded, GPL content cannot be uploaded (as there terms are not GPL compatible). It is a slippery slope and poorly thought out move by dropbox's lawyers. By opening door to the idea that users need to control certain copyright terms in order to use cloud based storage, you essentially make it useless from a standpoint of using the service legally and you will increase pressure from **AA to force cloud based storage managers to police and filter content.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640996)

That is a very valid point! I think it's one of those areas in which we'll have to allow practicality to override the letter of the law. For example, I buy a DVD whose terms prohibit retransmission yet I stream it wirelessly to my TV. It may be against the letter of the licence, but it's hopefully not the kind of thing they intended to exclude. One would hope that what they want to prevent is transmission outside of the home/family.

If I email myself some GPLed code, does the fact that the email is going to travel through third parties count as distribution?

I think in some licences they worked around the problem of having to effectively copy something in order for it to run - such as a program being copied in to memory.

You misunderstand the **aa (1)

fireylord (1074571) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641252)

They want each transmission over your local hardware to be counted as an individual performance, and that you pay per stream.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

Jiro (131519) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641354)

If you stream a DVD whose terms prohibit retransmission, or if you mail yourself GPL code, that's covered by fair use. Fair use protects you against the copyright owner going after you for copyright violation. Third parties are still allowed to do things conditional on whether you have the rights.

If the TV set was owned by someone else and he put a terms of use on it which said that you can't stream that DVD, streaming the DVD won't violate copyright (because of fair use), but it *would* violate the terms of use of the TV's owner.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641000)

It's the usual clause companies have to put

"You give us the right to make derivative works from your stuff" is just about as far away from "usual" as you can get it.

With a clause like that, Dropbox can do the smallest of alterations to your stuff, sell it, and not give you a dime. Even if it's something that you sell for $$ and don't give away for free. Hell, with a clause like that, Dropbox can take your software code and release it under any license they want, essentially as if they were you.

No part of the law requires them to not list out what they do. "Make any derivitive works necessary for this service" would do it. This isn't the law -- this is their lawyers being either dickish or lazy.

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

siride (974284) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641174)

Another person who didn't read: "to the extent which we think it necessary for the Service."

Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641132)

They went to far. Amazon publicly shows your content (when you authorize). Amazon is customer focused. Here is what the AWS Customer agreement says. It covers all services including S3.

8.1 Your Content. As between you and us, you or your licensors own all right, title, and interest in and to Your Content. Except as provided in this Section 8, we obtain no rights under this Agreement from you or your licensors to Your Content, including any related intellectual property rights. You consent to our use of Your Content to provide the Service Offerings to you and any End Users. We may disclose Your Content to provide the Service Offerings to you or any End Users or to comply with any request of a governmental or regulatory body (including subpoenas or court orders).

The dropbox tos is what happens when you give lawyers with little or no business experience free reign. The Amazon agreement provides the same relevant protection without all the irrelevant bs that scares people away.

Easy - encrypt it (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640608)

and don't give them the password.

Re:Easy - encrypt it (1)

werewolf1031 (869837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640916)

Um, yeah. Next up, they'll be taking users to court for doing just that, claiming it denies their rights to use your works.

Ok, probably not... but these days, it seems the craziest lawsuits get filed, so it wouldn't really surprise me.

But I gotta wonder: Could they legally bring such a suit, based on their TOS?

Re:Easy - encrypt it (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640980)

You aren't denying them access to the encrypted blob.

And they could just refuse to store data that they can't make any sense of, so hopefully any such case would go no further than amusing the judge.

well (1)

fireylord (1074571) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641270)

One would hope that the judge either doesn't amuse easily, or is having a bad day and wants to take it out on idiotic companies and their lawyers who try and write their own law. Dropbox would only try it the once then.

Re:Easy - encrypt it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36641002)

I encourage people to only use Dropbox for things that are NOT encrypted (and that they don't care if someone gets hold of) due to the fact that if everyone started encrypting their Dropbox files, then Dropbox couldn't do the whole "shared assets" trick.
Without the shared assets trick, Dropbox cannot maintain their service at the current pricepoint (I LIKE FREE) because they would require storage many factors greater in size and have to use an insane amount more bandwidth.

Or don't use DropBox. Use Wuala instead. (3, Informative)

Weezul (52464) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641066)

Wuala offers both encryption and cheap storage via data deduplication. They simply AES encrypt your stuff using it's own SHA as the key. And they use the encrypted file's SHA for the identifier. In this way, any two people should encrypt the same file to the same encrypted file, but nobody who's never seen the original file could read it, including Wuala.

Soon, we'll see the MafiAA perusing people's DropBox accounts to delete pirated content and/or sue its possessors. Wuala doesn't offer that much more technical protection here since they'll simply subpoena the list of people possessing a particular file, but they cannot actually just browse your account because each directory gets encrypted too and directories are usually unique. Also, Wuala is far more likely to fight a MafiAA subpoena because they're (a) based in Switzerland, (b) started as a P2P network, and (c) started by academics.

Great service... if heavily Truecrypted (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640626)

yes, dropbox can be useful.
all files im uploading there are encrypted.

on this occasion, i'd like to ask: Who Messed With My Anti-paranoia Shot?

They all do it. (5, Insightful)

nagnamer (1046654) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640636)

Google, deviantArt, Facebook, et al, they all have very similar or same wording in their TOS's. Point is, if they transfer data from your account to someone else's account, it is considered distribution, performance if they show video to others, etc, etc. So they need you to license your stuff to them so they're permitted to carry out their services. The fact that it, on paper, gives them right to do many other things is worrying, but not at all unusual. Good thing about Dropbox version is that it at least has the "to the extent we think we think it necessary for the Service." That is an improvement.

Re:They all do it. (1)

nagnamer (1046654) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640694)

Also keep in mind that in some cases, like in case of deviantArt, the license is time-limited to the duration of your usage of the service, which helps. I don't use Dropbox, so I don't know if that's the case with Dropbox. In some cases, it is not possible for service providers to time-limit the license, because the data may need to be available to other users after you leave.

Re:They all do it. (1)

trifish (826353) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640700)

The key thing is that, for those purposes, none of them needs permission so broad.

They only need a limited right to retain and transfer your content between their servers and your computer. That's it.

Re:They all do it. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640724)

Wat?

They all provide features that allow users to share content with other users. Legal paranoia says they need a license to do that.

Re:They all do it. (2)

nagnamer (1046654) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640752)

They all provide features that allow users to share content with other users. Legal paranoia says they need a license to do that.

Exactly. Plus Dropbox does add that it's to the extent they deem necessary to provide the services. IIRC, not everybody limits themselves in this way.

Re:They all do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640780)

They all provide features that allow users to share content with other users.

So you think they need rights to derive new works from your data? Wat [sic]?

Re:They all do it. (1)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640792)

They all provide features that allow users to share content with other users.

So you think they need rights to derive new works from your data? Wat [sic]?

Like for example scale images in the gallery, or if they decide to add such, convert PDF documents to HTML pages so you can link to them more easily.

Re:They all do it. (1)

trifish (826353) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640922)

You need to read something about copyright law. Derivative work must be an _original_ work of _human_ authorship. Trivial, technical, and/or machine-processed versions are not derivative works (such as thumbnails, etc.). Also, most of that is protected by the Fair Use doctrine already and nobody needs "world-wide, non-revocable, permission to derive".

Countries that use sweat-of-the-brow (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641084)

Derivative work must be an _original_ work of _human_ authorship.

As I understand the subject matter requirement of U.S. copyright law, this is true in the United States. It may not be true in countries that use sweat-of-the-brow.

Re:They all do it. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641118)

Well, Facebook needs that right so that they can sell your photos for use as stock photos to third parties (e.g. Starbucks). Creating an advert incorporating your uploaded photos involves creating a derived work.

Not sure why Dropbox needs it. Maybe they've realised that incompetent isn't as profitable as evil?

Re:They all do it. (2)

Silvanis (152728) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640772)

Not really. Any time they display or send your content to another person, that's copyright infringement. So they need a license from you, it needs to be worldwide (since anyone can access the website), you WANT it to be non-exclusive, they don't intend to pay you to use their service so royalty-free, sublicenseable to the extent that if they use akami or some such to host the content, then akami doesn't comment infringement..

Time duration's about the only piece of the typical grant that is questionable. Since Dropbox is something of a temporary service, theirs makes sense.

Re:They all do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640890)

So you would gladly give me the right to do as I please with anything you own... to the extent that I find necessary ?

How can that be an improvement, they are just saying that they are reserving the rights to do whatever the hell they please. If it had said something with "to the extend it is nessesary to provide the services of the system" or something similar, at least you could go to court when they start selling CD's with your indie bands songs. Now all they have to do is stand up and say "We found it necessary ", and no one can argue with them.

Re:They all do it. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641130)

If it had said something with "to the extend it is nessesary to provide the services of the system" or something similar

The key difference between Dropbox's wording "to the extent we think it necessary for the Service" and your suggested wording "to the extent it is necessary to provide the services of the system" appears to consist of "we think".

at least you could go to court when they start selling CD's with your indie bands songs.

As I understand it, Dropbox users in that case could still go to court and convince a judge why a reasonable person wouldn't "think it necessary for the Service".

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Out of context (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640648)

If you read the whole agreement, it isn't as scary as the poster has implied.

Your Stuff & Your Privacy

By using our Services you may give us access to your information, files, and folders (together, “your stuff”). You retain ownership to your stuff. You are also solely responsible for your conduct, the content of your files and folders, and your communications with others while using the Services.

We sometimes need your permission to do what you ask us to do with your stuff (for example, hosting, making public, or sharing your files). By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent we think it necessary for the Service. You must ensure you have the rights you need to grant us that permission.

How we use your stuff is also governed by the Dropbox Privacy Policy, which you acknowledge. You acknowledge that Dropbox has no obligation to monitor any information on the Services, even though we may do so. We are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, appropriateness, or legality of files, user posts, or any other information you may be able to access using the Services. We may disclose information about your account or your stuff to law enforcement officials as outlined in our Privacy Policy.

Re:Out of context (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640940)

Really is sad the amount of FUD spread on /.

Re:Out of context (2)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640966)

Um, it still sounds just as bad to me even in context. Legally, the sentence "We sometimes need your permission to do what you ask us to do with your stuff (for example, hosting, making public, or sharing your files)." doesn't affect the meaning in any way, other than couch it in the implication - to the layman - that the extent of the sentence following, is limited by that sentence. However, it isn't; if you parse the English, the two sentences are not connected.

Re:Out of context (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641126)

The entire thing is horrible from a legal standpoint. If that's their actual TOS, rather than an informal FAQ or similar, then run a mile from their service. They clearly haven't consulted a (remotely competent) lawyer in drawing up a legal document. From previous Slashdot stories, they haven't consulted a remotely competent cryptographer in designing their encryption either. I wonder if they've consulted anyone competent about anything at all...

Re:Out of context (1)

siride (974284) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641184)

That's why that following sentence ends with "to the extent which we think it necessary for the Service."

Re:Out of context (1)

ewilts (121990) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641254)

That's why that following sentence ends with "to the extent which we think it necessary for the Service."

But what if making money is "necessary for the Service"? The are implying that they have the right to license your work for profit so they can continue running Dropbox.

I would be worried about Johnny Law (1)

ControlsGeek (156589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640660)

The material in your dropbox account could be produced in a lawsuit by your opposition. Not that you have anything to hide but who knows what inferences and entanglements could come from that.

Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640670)

Wait a minute. I'm a manager, and I've been reading a lot of case studies and watching a lot of webcasts about The Cloud. Based on all of this glorious marketing literature, I, as a manager, have absolutely no reason to doubt the safety of any data put in The Cloud.

The case studies all use words like "secure", "MD5", "RSS feeds" and "encryption" to describe the security of The Cloud. I don't know about you, but that sounds damn secure to me! Some Clouds even use SSL and HTTP. That's rock solid in my book.

And don't forget that you have to use Web Services to access The Cloud. Nothing is more secure than SOA and Web Services, with the exception of perhaps SaaS. But I think that Cloud Services 2.0 will combine the tiers into an MVC-compliant stack that uses SaaS to increase the security and partitioning of the data.

My main concern isn't with the security of The Cloud, but rather with getting my Indian team to learn all about it so we can deploy some first-generation The Cloud applications and Web Services to provide the ultimate platform upon which we can layer our business intelligence and reporting, because there are still a few verticals that we need to leverage before we can move to The Cloud 2.0.

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (1)

nagnamer (1046654) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640710)

The case studies all use words like "secure", "MD5", "RSS feeds" and "encryption" to describe the security of The Cloud. I don't know about you, but that sounds damn secure to me! Some Clouds even use SSL and HTTP. That's rock solid in my book.

And there I was trying to make my service actually secure when all I needed to do was sprinkle our blurb with some secure-sounding keywords. Thanks for the tip. :)

Indian team? The Cloud runs on Apache. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641176)

My main concern isn't with the security of The Cloud, but rather with getting my Indian team to learn all about it

The Cloud runs on Apache [wikipedia.org] . Your Indian team [wikipedia.org] should have no problem.

HIYA PHB! ;D (nt) (1)

fireylord (1074571) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641326)

no text, innit

Privacy Policy is a significant part of the T& (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640672)

In the Privacy Policy (https://www.dropbox.com/privacy) they outline how or why they would share your content. IANAL, so any further insight would be great. Here's another relevant part of the T&C's from the Privacy Policy.

"Compliance with Laws and Law Enforcement Requests; Protection of Dropbox's Rights. We may disclose to parties outside Dropbox files stored in your Dropbox and information about you that we collect when we have a good faith belief that disclosure is reasonably necessary to (a) comply with a law, regulation or compulsory legal request; (b) protect the safety of any person from death or serious bodily injury; (c) prevent fraud or abuse of Dropbox or its users; or (d) to protect Dropbox’s property rights. If we provide your Dropbox files to a law enforcement agency as set forth above, we will remove Dropbox’s encryption from the files before providing them to law enforcement. However, Dropbox will not be able to decrypt any files that you encrypted prior to storing them on Dropbox."

What you get for free (2, Insightful)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640698)

If it bothers you that much, don't bee a freetard, get yourself a basic website with webspace, and you control your own domain and don't have to worry about companies making up such TOCs where they think they own copyrights they have no right to. (this was not a troll posting).

Re:What you get for free (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640744)

Unless you plan to host from home i'm sure that many of the hosting companies out there have similar or more intrusive contracts. Bare in mind, if you do host from home your consumer-grade provider might have a similar policy or they may start bitching if you have too many folks accessing your stuff and impose quotas

Re:What you get for free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640898)

Bare in mind

I am fully clothed right now, but that snippet is going to cling to me a bit.

Re:What you get for free (3, Insightful)

mrtwice99 (1435899) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641074)

Seriously, you are going to compare Dropbox to "a basic website with webspace", and this gets modded Insightful? I have lots of websites, there is a reason I use Dropbox, its a great product. I'm just concerned the terms are overly broad.

CYA against digital duplication jackassery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640714)

I'm going out on a limb here and not automatically assuming that legalese = evil (naieve, I know). Fairly certain enough of you will make up for my doe-eyed nature with the ferocity of your knee-jerk reactions, so I thank you for picking up my slack.

To the point: how many times have we seen the RIAA/MPAA cry foul about the evils of file copying? How many slashdot articles have passed by discussing the potential headaches incurred by Amazon's/Google's/Apple's/et al cloud music services? Does nobody even vaguely remember the legal arguments from Capitol v Jammie Thomas or Sony BMG vs. Joel Tenenbaum?

For fuck's sake, you've signed up for an automatically-syncing remote file hosting service. Did you not trust them to make your files available to you worldwide, through the intertubes owned by various non-Dropbox-owned ISPs? Did you not give them permission to copy your files to multiple computers, of your choosing, without them having to pay you licensing fees?

I may not be a lawyer, but I've at least passed out of high school with serviceable reading comprehension skills.

here in merica we aint be readin much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640804)

here in merica we aint be readin much. readin is the road to the devil i know cuz my pastor says so. i aint gonna read books cuz there might be athiest or evolution in them. i aint gonna read newspapers cuz i dont care bout the news and i dont want satans words sittin on my kitchen table when im tryna have a beer n some eggs. i aint even gonna read tv cuz im watchin football not some readin shows. so dont try n trick me into burnin in hell by readin your posts cuz i aint goin ta do it. i aint goin to hell and there aint nothin you can do bout it bro.

TOS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640726)

I was never a fan of Dropbox TOS. It was too campy. I will wait for Dropbox: The Next Generation. Dropbox: DS9 will probably be dismissed, only to gain popularity later on, and Dropbox: Voyager will just be a mess. Something about nobody wanting campy overused time travel plots and pointless T&A with their cloud file storage solutions.

You are giving them carte blanche (1)

pcause (209643) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640732)

You are giving dropbox the rights to do whatever they want to with your content, according to this. All of thye examples are just that - examples. The terms give them the right to make the judgment on what they want to do. And, since they are free to change the privacy policy at will, just as they changed the TOS, you have no protections.

They can write this much more tightly to protect themselves and give you absolute control. The problem is that to do so it will be very long and "legalese" and not friendly/simple. They should protect their users and the users' intent in choosing the service and do whatever they have to do to deliver what you thought you were getting.

Re:You are giving them carte blanche - not (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640876)

"You are giving dropbox the rights to do whatever they want to with your content, according to this. "

Let's qualify this. They can do what they want in order to deliver the advertised Service. They can't just up and decide to sell your stuff, for example, as that is not a Service they sell.

Re:You are giving them carte blanche - not (1)

NNKK (218503) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641024)

No, they can do whatever THEY think is necessary. It's no different than a clause reading "in our sole judgement".

Re:You are giving them carte blanche - not (1)

siride (974284) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641226)

IANAL, but it seems to me it would be hard to argue in court that Dropbox selling my content for money is necessary for the service or that they could reasonably think that necessary for executing the service.

Fails on yet another level (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640750)

So after having a problem where access given was access forever and when people could get to your stuff without a password they are now pretending they own everything people put there? Maybe it's time for law enforcement to get involved with these clowns and hit them with fraud for pretending to have a secure service.

Re:Fails on yet another level (4, Insightful)

X3J11 (791922) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640878)

... they are now pretending they own everything people put there?

No, they are being granted a license to use what people put there. There is a difference.

Maybe it's time for law enforcement to get involved with these clowns and hit them with fraud for pretending to have a secure service.

Yes someone better call the Internet Police and ... oh wait. This comment doesn't even make sense. Call which law enforcement exactly? And for what charge? "I don't like their Terms of Service" isn't, as far as I'm aware, something any country's laws have a charge for. You don't like the terms, you don't use the service.

Encryption Copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36640796)

If you use Dropbox you really - really - should be storing all such files using an encrypted disk image or file of some kind. Knox for the Mac comes to mind, as well as TrueCrypt for multiple platforms. Between this legalese and their recent total security failure, I see this as an absolute *requirement*.

And if your stuff is encrypted properly, they won't be able to claim ownership to it or use it. Problem solved. Ergo, encryption > copyright.

Safe for Bitcoin wallet? (2)

turkeyfeathers (843622) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640808)

Is it still safe to store my Bitcoin wallet there, so I can access it from anywhere?

Not even under their control (3, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640836)

At the end of the day, dropbox is really just a fancy front end bolted on to Amazon's s3 service. So basically if Amazon demanded no copyrighted material be stored on the service, dropbox must change it's TOS to match..... Ultimately your dropbox data is essentially in the hands of not just one, but 2 different companies.

Re:Not even under their control (2)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641334)

So basically if Amazon demanded no copyrighted material be stored on the service

...then they'd have to close that business unit by the end of the week. Hint: this post is copyrighted material. So is yours. So is the photo I took and uploaded to Flickr. In short, almost everything is copyrighted, and if Amazon tried to institute a no-copyrighted-material policy they'd be stuck with no customers but Project Gutenberg.

Summary incomplete (2)

davide marney (231845) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640844)

It leaves off the last sentence of the quoted paragraph from the TOS: "You must ensure you have the rights you need to grant us that permission."

IANAL, but I suspect that this is the linchpin of the terms. In order for any of the foregoing rights to be granted to dropbox, you must actually have rights in the first place. You are completely on the hook if you sync anything improperly.

This all sounds fine in theory, but I bet there's not a single dropbox customer who isn't running afoul of this term. It's not really dropbox's fault, it's the fault of our cockamamie copyright laws which grant automatic copyright on EVERYTHING on first publication.

When everything's covered, nothing's covered. Except for those who have the deep pockets to bring suit.

Re:Summary incomplete (1)

mrtwice99 (1435899) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641054)

Agreed, I have concerns about that sentence as well.

Translation: (3, Insightful)

kuzb (724081) | more than 3 years ago | (#36640908)

"We reserve the rights to be douchebags if we want, but we promise we won't be."

Re:Translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36641010)

Exactly, just like Microsoft's "Community Promise" or a certain advertising company's "Don't be evil" motto.

Fuck people are dumb.

A common TOS (1)

Random2 (1412773) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641006)

Apparently the submitter has never read a TOS before. That statement's been in almost every major corporation's TOS that I've read to date, and it's mostly an ass-covering line as mentioned by other posters. While I don't like the policy of including unreasonable policies in a TOS, this is hardly unique to dropbox and appears to be part of a mudslinging campaign instead of actual news.

Re:A common TOS (1)

mrtwice99 (1435899) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641042)

You are incorrect on both accounts. My goal was to make the TOS terms known to a wider audience in the hope of getting DB to change their TOS to something less permissive. The following is from box.net TOS, as noted by another commenter above:

By registering to use the Services, you understand and acknowledge that Box.net and its contractors retain an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use, copy, and publicly display such content *for the sole purpose of providing to you the Services for which you have registered*.

I realize they need some copyright assignment to provide the service, I just think its unnecessarily broad.

Encryption (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641040)

Problem solved.

Re:Encryption (1)

mrtwice99 (1435899) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641100)

How about when you want to share folders w/ other people? And, you want them to be able to modify the content? And, it needs to work on Windows, Linux, or Mac? And, it needs to work for technically challenged individuals? And... Yes, encryption has its place, but also has its problems.

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36641304)

Yes - problem solved.

http://getsecretsync.com/ss/ I've just recently started using secret sync, it provides client-side encryption.

Meh (1)

aLEczapKA (452675) | more than 3 years ago | (#36641140)

Removing my shit and uninstalling dropbox as I type this.
Dropxbox is nothing but convenient and lazy way to get your data in places.
Even if this shit I copy around is irrelevant and 'cheap' fuck this license.

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