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MegaUpload data to be rescued, though not shared with MegaUpload

By | Published on Friday 31 March 2017

MegaUpload

The sixteen hard drives containing some of the data that previously sat on the MegaUpload platform will be rescued; or, at least, rescuers will be allowed to try to rescue it.

As previously reported, ever since the US authorities took the often controversial MegaUpload offline on copyright infringement grounds in 2012 there has been much debate as to what should happen to the servers the company rented from various suppliers around the world; or at least those that haven’t already been wiped.

The data on those servers is of interest to the music and movie companies, which reckon they need it as evidence for their civil litigation against the old MegaUpload company. The former MegaUpload management, meanwhile, want the data as evidence for their defence to both the civil and criminal proceedings they are facing. Plus there are those former MegaUpload customers who used the file-storage firm to legitimately store their own original content who would quite like to get their files back.

Last year one of the US companies that previously rented server space to MegaUpload – Cogent – said that some of the hard drives on which the ex-firm’s data had been stored following the 2012 shutdown were now unreadable simply because they hadn’t been used in such a long time. In a legal filing, MegaUpload itself said it had been told that “without the assistance of a computer forensic expert … Cogent cannot confirm that the data remains extant and uncorrupted”.

Earlier this month the Motion Picture Association Of America and the Recording Industry Association Of America put forward a proposal to a federal court in Virginia that said they would pay for a company called DriveSavers to review the sixteen hard drives and attempt to rescue the data. If it can, it would return the rescued data to Cogent without keeping any copies for itself, or providing copies to any third parties.

The old MegaUpload team had no problem with that plan, except that they wanted a commitment as part of the proposal that they would get a copy of any rescued data, adding that in return they would be happy to commit to only use said data as evidence in their legal defence. The MPAA and RIAA have generally resisted any suggestion that data be automatically returned to MegaUpload or former MegaUpload users on the basis that at least a chunk of it will be their members’ copyright protected material that was on the defunct site’s platform illegally.

For their part, the movie and record industries said that the debate over who gets access to the rescued data could be had another day, for now all that needed to be decided was how said data was going to be rescued. The judge overseeing the case recently agreed, knocking back a slightly altered proposal from Team Mega which included the commitment to provide them with the data.

Though, by approving the MPAA/RIAA version of the plan, they won’t automatically get the data either. Judge Liam O’Grady’s ruling reads: “Once the drives and devices have been returned to Cogent’s custody and stored in Cogent’s facility, no person … shall have access to those drives and devices, or to the data contained on those drives and devices, absent further order from this court”.

There are both criminal and civil proceedings ongoing in relation to the old MegaUpload business of course. Both of which have been held up as the US goes through the long drawn out process of trying to extradite MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and his former colleagues from New Zealand to America.



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