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Google Drive users stung by macOS ‘.DS_Store’ copyright infringement issue

February 20, 2022
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Google Drive is causing problems for some macOS users, as the ubiquitous “.DS_Store” files are being misinterpreted by the cloud storage service as documents that infringe copyright.

Users of Google Drive can potentially receive an email warning that a file of theirs “violates Google Drive’s Terms of Service,” specifically its copyright infringement policy. However, it appears that Google’s automated file scanning system has deemed a fairly common file as a false positive.

In posts to Reddit, as reported by Bleeping Computer, the system is being tripped up by “.DS_Store.” Specific to macOS, .DS_Store holds custom attributes relating to the folder it is contained within.

Typically hidden from macOS users, the file does occasionally appear in specific cases, such as within a ZIP archive. While Finder does try to hide the file where possible, it can appear on cloud storage services when directories are uploaded, or to sometimes appear when other operating systems like Windows are used to examine a folder, depending on configured hidden file settings.

AppleInsider has been able to replicate the issue on an Intel Mac mini, using Google Drive. While attempts on a MacBook Pro and an Intel-based iMac didn’t work, it seems unlikely for it to be a problem affecting specific types of Mac.

It is thought that the problem could be caused through a match in hashes between the .DS_Store files and those of known copyrighted content, which could prompt the violation notice.

This is not the first time that Google Drive has manifested such a problem, as users in January found files that contained a few numbers were flagged for similar copyright violations.

A Google spokesperson said they had addressed the issue in January that “impacted a small number of Drive files,” including correcting the incorrect flagging and taking steps to stop it from happening again. “This is still correct for all new files, but we’re still updating some edge cases,” said the spokesperson.

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