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If you share a folder with another person, its contents sync to their computers, and they have full read-right access to everything in that folder. You can use email to invite another person (they have to have a Dropbox account), or you can pick from a list of Facebook friends.
To grant read-only access to files and folders, use the "Get a link" options. Anyone who accesses the files using that link can make a copy, but can't change the contents of the original file or folder.