The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) does not want Megaupload to get its servers back, according to court documents filed on Monday. If it does, warns the MPAA, then the company could be back up and running, without any way to shut it back down.
The move comes as the court is considering whether to allow Megaupload’s Virginia-based hosting company, Carpathia, to sell the 25 petabytes of data back to the file-sharing company as a way to rid itself of the $9,000 daily expense of storing the massive cache of data. Carpathia says that it has so far cost the company more than $500,000 to maintain the 25,000 servers containing the Megaupload data.
“A sale or transfer of the servers to Megaupload (or any of the defendants) would raise a significant risk that Megaupload will simply ship the servers, hard drives or other equipment — and all of the infringing content they contain — to a foreign jurisdiction and relaunch the infringing Megaupload service, which would result in untold further infringements of the MPAA members’ copyrighted works,” the MPAA wrote in its filing. “If so, the renewed criminal enterprise might be beyond any effective legal remedy.”
The MPAA added that the sale of the servers to Megaupload would constitute a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because it means their intellectual property could once again be illegally made available to the public.
Attorney Ira Rothken, who represents the co-founder Kim Dotcom and five other Megaupload executives charged in the case, said the U.S. government’s refusal to allow Megaupload access to its servers is simply a way to impede the defense, because the information stored on the machines is necessary for the defendants to fight back against the charges.
While the MPAA fights to keep its intellectual property from falling back into the hands of Megaupload, users whose rightfully owned data remains trapped on the Carpathia servers have yet to make headway in recovering their files. One user, Kyle Goodwin, who runs local sports website Ohiosportsnet.tv, has requested that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia allow him access to his video files. Goodwin is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which offered legal services to anyone who has legitimate claims to files stored on Megaupload’s servers.
Of the tens of millions of Megaupload users, Goodwin is the only person yet to make such a request. The MPAA says that it is “sympathetic” to users whose files have been withheld from them, and that it is “willing to consider” a way for these users to retrieve their files, as long as the process includes “a procedure that ensures that any materials the users download are not files that have been illegally uploaded to their accounts.”
Update: CNet’s Greg Sandoval reports that U.S. attorney Neil MacBride has filed to deny the request to release the Megaupload servers. MacBride says that innocent users whose files are stored on the servers should have followed Mega’s terms of service, which instructed users to not keep the sole copy of their files store with Megaupload. No surprise here, as this is the same reasoning the Department of Justice has been using since the beginning of this case.