There is a new service in town called Boxopus and depending on how you look at it, this might be software and content pirates’ new best friend. Why? It might help enable them quickly and conveniently store illegal content in their account’s Dropbox. Again, our focus should be on depending on how you look at it. The thing with technology is that unless the technology can only be used for illegal purposes, most technology is neutral. For example, a manufacturer of a bullet could not be held liable when that bullet is used to commit a crime under normal circumstances. Why? This is because that bullet could also be used for legal purposes, which is to shoot criminals lawfully or to defend a country during an invasion. The same reasoning was famously applied by the U.S. Supreme Court when video cassette recorder technology was challenged in the United States.
The court said that if there was a legal purpose for a device, any illegal use of that device does not necessarily make that device illegal. That is the key thing that we have to keep in mind when looking at online services like Boxopus. This service uses Dropbox application programing interface (API) to add torrent files to any Dropbox account. It does this anonymously. What raises a lot of eyebrows about this particular service is that users are able to do this without the need for a BitTorrent client. Looking at Boxopus’ own website, the service describes itself as having a wide reach over the internet’s content and it likens itself to an octopus that can extend its tentacles and grab content from a number of sites that have torrent files.
What all users need to do is feed Boxopus with the torrent and the service will grab the file associated with that torrent and put it in your Dropbox account fairly quickly. Talk about convenience! This is what draws a lot of attention to this service because instead of the standard model of loading up a BitTorrent client, finding a torrent and putting in the BitTorrent client, downloading the file and moving it around, Boxopus just lets you skin many steps in the torrent handling process. All it asks from you is your Dropbox account and the torrent for the file that you want stored. It does the rest. The piracy implications are quite easy to see because of the huge convenience involved and also the ability of Dropbox to share public Dropbox files. At this stage of the game, it is not inconceivable for pirates to get a list of torrents together and use this service and then have it plug retrieved files to a wide array of public Dropbox accounts. The pirates would then publicize the URLs of these Dropbox accounts so people can share the files. While the illegal use is fairly easy to see, the legal use is easy to see as well because you can easily use the service for legal purposes as well The service is free and while it is undergoing beta testing, it is unlimited. Talk about a nice deal!
The site did say that after its beta phase, the service will start to have limitations for people using the service for free. Another key thing that Boxopus has going forward is that it has tied itself to Dropbox, which is a recognized legal cloud service. On its face, what Boxopus is doing does not seem shady at all because if you are going to consider its usage illegal, then you would also have to suspect Dropbox. Dropbox is a widely respected legitimate cloud-based service. From a legal and promotions perspective, it would be quite interesting to see how this technology pans out.