Political activist group Demand Progress has filed a brief in the Megaupload case, urging the court to disregard the MPAA’s concerns over the return of data to former Megaupload users. The group argues that Hollywood lobbyists are out to make it impossible for Megaupload users to access their property, effectively using the court case as a backdoor SOPA.
Demand Progress is joining the Megaupload case as a non-party. The group has filed a brief refuting claims made by the MPAA, and asking the Court to consider the many innocent users who are still unable to access their personal files.
The MPAA previously told the court that Megaupload users should only be allowed to get their files back as long as access to copyright-infringing files is blocked. According to Demand Progress this request is practically impossible, against the presumption of innocence, and effectively an attempt to enforce SOPA-like actions through the backdoor.
Demand Progress’ The Internet vs. Hollywood campaign
In the brief the activist group says the MPAA is trying to use the Megaupload case to achieve what Congress rejected earlier this year, when it decided to shelve the SOPA and PIPA bills.
“Legislation that sought to achieve the very results the MPAA now seeks to obtain de facto through mere seizure of Mega Servers — with or without a conviction – was rejected by Congress,” the brief reads.
“Specifically, the failed legislation tried to render inaccessible data on websites that host user-uploaded files, and to do so at the request of private parties like MPAA, without due process for targeted business owners and users.”
Despite the fact that Congress rejected SOPA and PIPA, the MPAA will now get the same secondary liability scheme enforced when the court grants the requests of the movie studios, the group argues.
Demand Progress further tells the court that the MPAA’s request not to allow access to infringing files goes directly against the fundamental principle that Americans are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“The MPAA reasons property owners should prove their property non-infringing before the Court permits them access to it. This is akin to arguing that when a thief rents a hotel room and is caught, the contents of all of the guests’ luggage should be presumed contraband until proven otherwise. This result would be absurd and unreasonable.”
“On its face, the MPAA’s request is suspect and asks the Court to bootstrap the guilt of parties onto a collateral motion, prior to a judgment,” they add.
These are worrying developments according to Demand Progress, not just for Megaupload users, but also for the hundreds of millions of people who store files on Google, Dropbox, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr and other online services.
To add weight to their plea, a new campaign titled “The Internet vs. Hollywood” is being launched today in which members of the public are invited to add their name as supporter of the brief.