The U.S. Government says it’s in no way responsible for the millions of Megaupload users who have lost access to their files due to the criminal proceedings against the file-sharing site. Responding to a motion from one of the site’s users, the Government explains that no “irreparable harm” has been done. Instead of targeting the Government, disadvantaged users should sue Megaupload or its hosting company Carpathia for damages.
Nearly half a year has passed since Megaupload’s servers were raided by the U.S. Government, and still there is no agreement on how former users can retrieve their files.
This prompted Megaupload user Kyle Goodwin, a sports reporter who used Megaupload to store work-related files, to take action. Helped by the EFF, Mr. Goodwin filed a motion in which he demands that the court finds a workable solution for the return of his data, and that of other former Megaupload users.
Previous attempts to come to a solution have all failed.
Hosting company Carpathia agreed to sell Megaupload the servers for $1,000,000 earlier this year, but the U.S. authorities objected to the plan. The Government did not want to unfreeze Megaupload’s assets so the data can be saved.
The MPAA also spoke out against the agreement, but stated last week that users could get their files back as long as copyrighted files remain inaccessible.
The U.S. Government, however, is asking the court to deny the motion of the Megaupload user. Mr. Goodwin has accused the Government of violating the constitutional rights of many innocent Megaupload users through the overbroad seizures of domains and servers, but the Attorney General Neil MacBride disagrees.
“The government does not possess any of Mr. Goodwin’s property, nor does it seek to forfeit it,” MacBride writes.
“The government also does not oppose access by Kyle Goodwin to the 1103 servers previously leased by Megaupload. But access is not the issue – if it was, Mr. Goodwin could simply hire a forensic expert to retrieve what he claims is his property and reimburse Carpathia for its associated costs.”
In other words, the Government says it no longer has control over the servers and that Megaupload users can access them whenever they want. The only problem is that this would cost thousands of dollars, if not more.
The Government doesn’t want to pay for a user data retrieval and doesn’t want Megaupload to pay for it either. The authorities already made backups of what they consider crucial data, and don’t mind if the severs are wiped clean. That Megaupload users lose their files is unfortunate, but the financial loss Mr. Goodwin claims is not considered to be “irreparable harm.”
“One reason that monetary loss does not constitute irreparable harm is that Mr. Goodwin has a legal remedy to recover any monetary losses,” MacBride writes.
“For instance, if Megaupload (by failing to maintain its leased servers with data he uploaded) or Carpathia (by terminating Megaupload’s lease and choosing not to continue to provide access to the servers) violated a term of service or other contract with Mr. Goodwin, he can sue Megaupload or Carpathia to recover his losses.”
Effectively, the U.S. Government is blocking the plans of Megaupload and Carpathia to reunite users with their data, and suggests that affected users like Mr. Goodwin should sue these parties to claim their losses. A rather unusual proposal.
The result is that a user data retrieval looks farther away than ever before.
Unless the court intervenes all existing 25 petabytes of data hosted by Carpathia may have to be destroyed. Currently, the hosting company is losing $9000 per day to keep the data intact.
Aside from the loss of user files that this mass-deletion brings along, Megaupload will also lose access to data that may help the company in its defense against the U.S. Government.