Megaupload Seized Data Case Will Get a Hearing, Court Rules

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When the Megaupload file-hosting service was raided and shut down in January this year, it wasn't just the company and its operators that were punished. Thousands of Megaupload users lost access to their legitimate data and for nearly 10 months have been in a state of limbo. Now, following pressure from one wronged user and his supporters at the EFF, it seems progress is being made . He will get his day in court, a judge has ruled.

In a couple of weeks time it will be exactly 10 months since Megaupload’s servers were raided by U.S. authorities.

Now, and after considerable legal wrangling, it finally appears that the fate of the user data on those machines is set to be decided.

The data, currently sitting inside 1103 servers at Carpathia Hosting in the United States, has been the subject of extended negotiations between Megaupload’s legal team and the Department of Justice and other parties. Megaupload wants its formers users to regain access, but the authorities and the MPAA – who say the machines are filled with pirated movies, TV shows and music – aren’t so keen.

In May, and after initial requests months earlier, Ohio-based business man Kyle Goodwin, a former Megaupload user who lost access to his personal videos, filed a motion with the support of the EFF asking the courts to find a solution for their return of his data and that of other Megaupload users.

Although Judge Liam O’Grady didn’t make a direct decision, he did order the original parties back to the table to negotiate. In July they limped on for a couple of months only to fail again in September. This prompted the EFF to put more pressure on Judge O’Grady.

Now, according to the EFF, things are moving forward at last.

“The Court stated today that it will hold a hearing to find out the details about Mr. Goodwin’s property – where it is, what happened when the government denied him access to it, and whether and how he can get it back,” says EFF attorney Julie Samuels.

Goodwin and the U.S. government have been asked to come up with a format for the hearing, to take place on a currently unscheduled date sometime in the future.

Describing the good news as “long overdue”, Samuels says the hearing will represent another step for innocent users to have their “rightful property” returned.

“We are glad that Mr. Goodwin will finally get to make his case in court and we look forward to helping the judge fashion a procedure to make all of Megaupload’s consumers whole again by granting them access to what is legally theirs,” Samuels concludes.

Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken, who previously told TorrentFreak that the seizing of all user data by the U.S. government amounted to a violation of due process, says the hearing will give Megaupload the opportunity to call U.S. officials to testify.

“Megaupload will be filing papers with the court to specially intervene,” he told CNET, “considering that it is only the Internet service provider that, under applicable privacy laws, is the only party that can access the data and coordinate return to consumers.”


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