Users who lost piles of data, files, documents, and other useful items when the United States government lowered the boom on the cloud-based Megaupload are being told they’re out of luck with respect to retrieving their lost data.
The government says that the criminal proceedings against Megaupload make the site, not the feds, responsible for any data loss.
Megaupload finds itself smack in the middle of litigation that involves the likes of the Motion Picture Association of America, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the United States Attorney’s office. The site allowed users to upload large files and share them with other users. The government and some industry groups alleged that Megaupload operated as a conduit for almost “exclusively” sharing copyrighted material. The feds swooped in and seized roughly 25 petabytes of data nearly half a year ago.
The government’s criminal prosecution of Megaupload effectively targets seven people connected to the site, which is based out of Hong Kong. Founder Kim Dotcom has been of particular interest, with his flamboyant lifestyle generating a lot of media interest. The government has alleged that the “estimated harm” to copyright holders through Megaupload’s services amounts to over $500 million.
Whatever the content or validity of the criminal suit is, there’s still the matter of fall-out for legal users of Megaupload. Because cloud computing law is relatively new, there are a lot of questions about different legal areas. There are also some questions about responsibility if and when copyright infringement takes place.
As of now, the United States government has told users looking for their lost and legal data to seek out avenues on their own to get their materials back. In the case of Kyle Goodwin, a Megaupload user looking to access his copyrighted material that he stored on the site from his own OhioSportsNet site, the feds have told him to seek out legal action against the file-sharing site.
In other words, the government won’t be helping Goodwin – or anybody else – in retrieving data that they seized in their raid of Megaupload. One wonders about the precedent in this regard and how it could play out through other cloud-based applications, especially in areas where the legal lines are even fuzzier than they are in this instance.
In this case, the “good” news is that Goodwin is the only person to have come forward asking for data back from Megaupload. The “bad” news, according to Goodwin’s lawyer (Julie Samuels of the Electronic Frontier Foundation), is that there could be even more Goodwins in the future if the government doesn’t define some better solutions outside of the seizing of entire websites without regard for third party property.