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Hollywood wages war against legitimate Megaupload customers

Published time: November 01, 2012 17:08
Edited time: November 01, 2012 21:08
Megaupload.com founder Kim Dotcom (AFP Photo / Michael Bradley)

Megaupload.com founder Kim Dotcom (AFP Photo / Michael Bradley)

A federal judge is considering how legitimate users of the Megaupload online storage site may be allowed access to files hosted on seized servers, but Hollywood is still adamant about doing everything possible to prevent that from happening.

Kyle Goodwin says he uploaded personal files to the Megaupload.com cyber locker that were vital to his small business, but he’s been unable to access that data ever since authorities shut-down the site and arrested its founder, Kim Dotcom of New Zealand, in January. Ten months after the fact, Goodwin can’t access his files and is now being represented by attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"The government engaged in a overbroad seizure, denying Mr. Goodwin access to his data, along with likely millions of others who have never been accused of wrongdoing," EFF staff attorney Julie Samuels says in a statement this week. "Access to the government's warrant application and related materials can help us learn how this could have happened and provide assistance in our efforts to get Mr. Goodwin his property back."

A judge is now being tasked with deciding if those court files can be opened to assess the situation fully, but the Hollywood bigwigs who were opposed to the site say that might not be the best idea.

"[A]ny remedy granted should not compound the massive infringing conduct already at issue in this criminal litigation,” the Motion Picture Association of America tells the court in a recent request the lobbying group has filed.

The federal government agrees with the MPAA, and is insisting that Mr. Goodwin go through all sorts of hoops before he has a chance at reclaiming his work.

"Because Mr. Goodwin has yet to demonstrate whether he has an interest in any property seized by the government, any preliminary evidentiary hearing in this matter should be limited to the question of whether Mr. Goodwin has an interest in any property which he can show was seized by the government," a brief filed by US attorneys reads. "Because that question alone is likely dispositive of the motion, and because that question can be decided based on sworn affidavits and documents, such an approach will conserve judicial resources and avoid a fishing expedition into a pending criminal prosecution."

Now Goodwin is being told to prove his personal property was lost because the government ordered a seizure on Megaupload’s servers, to which the EFF calls a “callous disregard for third-party property rights” on behalf of the feds.

“The government knew Megaupload operated a data storage business, and thus held the property of third parties lawfully using Megaupload’s storage services. The government knew its search and seizure of Megaupload’s assets would deprive such third parties of the ability to access and retrieve their property,” his attorneys tell the court.

On their part, Megaupload is asking the court to be included in these hearings as they believe they offer a crucial side to the story that could benefit people like Mr. Goodwin. The site’s founder, however, remains under close and careful monitoring pending the case. The US will decide next year if they can extradite Dotcom, a German national, to America, but his attorneys have all but insisted that such a maneuver is now impossible, especially after New Zealand authorities have called his arrest and the subsequent raid of his Coatesville, NZ mansion unlawful.

To the New Zealand Herald earlier this year, Dotcom said the US attorneys attempting to prosecute him “can't win this case and they know that already.”

On the anniversary of the raid the propelled Dotcom to international stardom, he plans on launching Mega, a new site in the vein of his seized file locker that he says will be able to circumvent any American legislation limiting such an operation. When Mega is launched in January, all materials uploaded to its server will be encrypted, preventing even Dotcom from knowing what’s being hosted.