Nearly four years have passed since Megaupload’s servers were raided by the U.S. Government, and still it remains uncertain if former users will ever be able to retrieve their files.
Soon after the raids former Megaupload user Kyle Goodwin, a sports reporter who used Megaupload to store work-related files, took legal steps to secure his work.
Helped by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Mr. Goodwin filed at least six requests asking the court to find a workable solution for the return of his data, but thus far without success.
The U.S. hasn’t been particularly helpful in the matter as it previously suggested that disadvantaged users shouldn’t bother the Government with complaints, but sue Megaupload instead.
Earlier this month QTS, which owns the servers after they acquired Carpathia hosting, asked the court if it could wipe the data. The company still spends $5,760 per month to preserve Megaupload’s files but doesn’t want to carry this burden forever.
QTS’ request is understandable and the company is not the only third-parties waiting for a solution. Following up on the company’s request, EFF and Kyle Goodwin are asking the court to come up with a solution so he and other former Megaupload users can retrieve their lost files.
“Getting access to the video files I had stored in my Megaupload account would be valuable for my business, my customers, and for me personally,” Goodwin tells the court.
“If I am able to access those files, I will continue to make original video productions from them […] and use the videos in documentaries and promotional materials. I believe the revenue I could earn from the use of the video files will help me grow my business.”
Goodwin’s attorneys has filed a response (pdf) to QTS’ request to dispose of the data. They stress to the court that it’s important to come up with a solution. None of the involved parties can or wants to take responsibility, so the court has to step in.
“It is unclear who currently controls Mr. Goodwin’s property. QTS says it does not have any interest in the data and cannot access it.”
“The government claims it has released control over the servers and the data on them. Megaupload, for its part, says it cannot afford to turn the servers back on and allow customers like Mr. Goodwin to retrieve their data because the government controls its financial assets.”
The uncertainly about the data is not Mr. Goodwin’s fault though, the lawyers argue. They therefore ask the court to come up with a solution.
“It is clear, however, that through no fault of his own, Mr. Goodwin does not control his property, and that this Court has the authority to remedy that. Mr. Goodwin respectfully requests this Court exercise that power and grant him, and those similarly situated, the return of their property.”
How such a data return would work is unclear. Technically the data can be mirrored and hosted elsewhere but someone has to pick up the bill. Thus far negotiations on the issue haven’t resulted in a workable solution.
Also, putting Megaupload’s data back online is likely to cause concern among copyright holders. The MPAA previously stated that users can have their files back as long as access to copyrighted files is blocked, which may be easier said than done.
The court will now have to review the situation once more and is expected to respond to Goodwin’s request during the weeks to come.