Judge: RIAA and MPAA Can’t Copy Megaupload’s Servers, Yet

The legal battles between the RIAA, MPAA and Kim Dotcom's Megaupload have been put on hold for another six months. Virginia District Court Judge Liam O'Grady agreed to stay the cases, but did not grant a request from the industry groups to allow them to copy Megaupload's data which remains stored at its former hosting provider.

megaupload-logoWell over four years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, but all this time there has been no real progress on the legal front.

Last December a New Zealand District Court judge ruled that Kim Dotcom and his colleagues can be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges, a decision that’s currently under appeal.

With the criminal case pending, the civil lawsuits against the major record labels and Hollywood’s top movie studios have been halted as well.

Fearing that they might influence criminal proceedings, Megaupload’s legal team have had these cases put on hold since 2014, with permission from the copyright holders. However, when Megaupload’s counsel recently opted for another stay, the RIAA and MPAA objected.

Instead of simply signing off on another extension, the movie and music industry groups asked for permission to subpoena Megaupload’s former hosting provider Cogent Communications. Suggesting that the data might not be safe, they asked to make a backup of some crucial evidence the provider has in storage.

“To avoid the risk of substantial prejudice to Plaintiffs from the potential loss of the relevant data in Cogent’s possession, the Court should carve out of any further stay of this case the permission for Plaintiffs to subpoena Cogent for a forensic copy of that data,” both groups informed the court.

The MPAA and RIAA even offered to pay the costs of such a backup, which they estimate to be in the range of $20,000 or less.

Megaupload’s legal team, however, rejected the proposal. Among other things, they argued that privacy sensitive data on their former customers should not be freely shared, and asked the court not to issue a subpoena.

Last Friday both parties presented their case during a hearing and after careful deliberation District Court Judge Liam O’Grady has now decided (pdf) not to issue a subpoena.

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Instead, he decided that things should stay as they are, meaning that Cogent will be the only party that has a copy of the Megaupload data in question. RIAA, MPAA or Megaupload should, however, inform the court if they have concrete evidence that this data is at risk.

“…if any party gains knowledge that any potential evidence in this case, including digital evidence currently being held by Cogent Communications, Inc., is being or might be destroyed, it should notify the Court immediately.”

This decision can be seen as win for Megaupload and Kim Dotcom, as they have successfully averted an attempt from the movie and music companies to gain access to crucial evidence in the case before the official discovery process begins.

“We are pleased that the Federal Court granted the Megaupload defendants’ request for a stay of the civil copyright cases and denied the MPAA and RIAA plaintiffs’ request for early discovery,” Ira Rothken, Megaupload’s Lead Global Counsel, informs TorrentFreak

“The stay will assist the orderly conduct of parallel criminal related proceedings,” he adds.

As requested by Megaupload, Judge O’Grady agreed to put the civil cases on hold for another six months, after the appeal of the New Zealand extradition decision is heard.

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