Dropbox has effectively killed the Boxopus startup because it could possibly be perceived as encouraging piracy.
Boxopus isn't the sort of new technology that's going to change the world, but it does have the potential to make it a whole lot more convenient for a lot of people. It allows users to download torrents directly to their Dropbox account without the need for a separate client, a feature attractive enough to boost its user count to over 50,000 when word of the still-new software got out over the weekend. But today that's all ground to a halt, because Dropbox has pulled the plug - or, somewhat more precisely, closed the door.
"It's come to our attention that latest Boxopus features could be perceived as encouraging users to violate copyright using Dropbox," the Boxopus team was told earlier today. "Violating copyright is against our terms of service, so we are terminating your app's API access. Once your access is revoked, any API calls your app makes will fail."
The revocation of access blindsided the Boxopus team not only because it's complying with all DMCA requirements but also because Dropbox had "explicitly approved" an alpha version of the software just weeks prior. "Once the alpha version was approved we were pretty sure that Dropbox was okay with it, so we put our efforts into optimizing the service," the head of the Boxopus team said. "It took us three months to finish the product with a team of five people, which was a $30,000 investment."
There's no question that BitTorrent and piracy go hand-in-hand, but the developer said that "a lot of interesting legal can be found in BitTorrent networks and this is what Boxopus is made for." And ultimately, Boxopus, like Dropbox itself, is a technology; issues of legality should emerge not from what it is, but from how it's used. Of course, the same thing could be said about Megaupload and we all know what happened there.
The Dropbox decision is apparently final, so the Boxopus group is now trying to salvage what it can by partnering with other cloud storage services.