Thursday, October 19, 2017

Appeals court asked to intervene over lost MegaUpload files | UNLIMITED | CMU


Lobbying group the Electronic Frontier Foundation has asked the Fourth Circuit appeals court in the US to issue a writ of mandamus – one of my favourite kinds of writ – ordering the court overseeing the long-running MegaUpload criminal case to put in place a system via which legitimate users of the one-time file-storage service can get back their documents.

As much previously reported, when the US authorities swooped and took the MegaUpload platform off line in early 2012 – in response to allegations of rampant copyright infringement against the tech firm – they also cut off to users of the service access to any legitimate (ie non-infringing) files they were storing on the company’s servers.

At various points in the subsequent five years – as the criminal proceedings against MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and his former colleagues have crawled along at a snail’s pace – there have been various discussions as to how those users might be reconnected to that content.

In the main, the US authorities leading the criminal prosecution have been unhelpful. Meanwhile the music and movie industries which lobbied for the MegaUpload shutdown have said that they are fine for legit users to get back their legit content, though have demanded that said users not be reconnected to any unlicensed audio or video, thus complicating any possible reconnection programme.

The judge overseeing the case has been sympathetic to those former users who lost personal files when MegaUpload was taken offline, and especially to video maker Kyle Goodwin, who has been leading the fight to get that content back. Though that sympathy hasn’t to date translated into anything practical.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been lobbying for Goodwin throughout, and in that capacity it recently petitioned the Court Of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit requesting that judges there intervene to help their client.

EFF lawyer Mitch Stoltz said: “Mr Goodwin, and many others, used MegaUpload to store legal files, and we’ve been asking the court for help since 2012. It’s deeply unfair for him to still be in limbo after all this time. The legal system must step in and create a pathway for law-abiding users to get their data back”.

Meanwhile EFF’s Legal Director Corynne McSherry argued that the poor treatment in this case of innocent consumers caught in the legal crossfire sets a dangerous precedent as more people store more documents online. She said: “We’re likely to see even more cases like this as cloud computing becomes increasingly popular. If the government takes over your bank, it doesn’t get to keep the family jewels you stored in the vault. There’s a process for you to get your stuff back, and you have a right to the same protection for your data”.


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