More than five years have passed since Megaupload’s shutdown early 2012.
The criminal investigation took out the largest file-storage site of its time, and also meant that millions of users lost access to their personal files as collateral damage.
One of the affected users is Kyle Goodwin, who operates a sports video company in Ohio. He used Megaupload as part of his business, to safely store large videos he created himself.
Although many assumed that the Megaupload data had been permanently lost, Mr. Goodwin wasn’t ready to throw in the towel that easily. A few months after the raid he asked the court to assist him and others to retrieve their personal property.
Unfortunately for him, the District Court has yet to issue an order that allows former users of the site to retrieve their data. Assisted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Williams Mullen law firm, and Stanford’s Hoover Institution, many requests were filed but without a satisfying outcome.
Having exhausted nearly every option, Mr. Goodwin’s legal team urged the Appeals Court to intervene last month. The Government’s apparent disregard for the rights of former Megaupload users continues to hurt innocent bystanders, they argued.
Mr. Goodwin’s lawyers asked the court to issue a ‘writ of mandamus‘ to the trial court, requesting it to act on their client’s behalf and create a process for Megaupload users to regain access their data.
While the EFF hoped this would break through the five-year log-jam, the Appeals Court denied the request late last week.
“Although, as Mr. Goodwin points out, his motion for return of property has been pending for a significant period of time without decision, we do not find on this record that the district court has refused to adjudicate the matter,” the order reads (pdf).
“Accordingly, the petition for writ of mandamus is denied without prejudice,” the Appeals Court added.
The Appeals Court has the power to intervene in cases where a District Court “persistently and without reason” refuses to make a decision, but found that this is not the case here.
This means that the stalemate continues, even after five years. Mr. Goodwin’s data remains out of reach for the time being, and the same is true for all other users who still hope to be reunited with their files.
His legal team is not giving up though. EFF Senior Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz informs TorrentFreak that they will continue their efforts to return the data to the rightful owners.
“We’re disappointed that the appeals court refused to step in to get this case moving. Kyle Goodwin and many others have been waiting five years to get their data back, and soon it might be un-recoverable. We will continue asking the district court to act on Mr. Goodwin’s request,” Stoltz says.