Interested parties have two weeks to agree on what is to become of the 1,100 powered-down servers that hold 25 million gigabytes of Megaupload.com’s data
Content held on the 1,100 servers used by the defunct Megaupload.com service is to be preserved for now, according to the decision handed down by a Virginia judge on Friday.
In a decision handed down on Friday at an Alexandria, Virginia court, US District Judge Liam O’Grady gave prosecutors two weeks to meet with interested parties over the question of what is to become of the 25 million gigabytes of data formerly hosted by Megaupload.com.
Megaupload applauded the decision, with attorney Ira Rothken tweeting on Friday: “Megaupload is pleased with the Judge’s ruling in US in favour of server data preservation and ordering conference with experienced magistrate.”
The service was taken offline in January by US law enforcement agents, who claim Megaupload was at the centre of a conspiracy to distribute millions of copies of copyrighted films, television programmes, books, video games and software. Several of the firm’s executives were arrested, including New Zealand-based Kim Dotcom.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) claims the Megaupload data represents the largest collection of copyright-infringed material in the world, while Megaupload’s attorneys claim they need access to the data in order to defend the company’s directors against infringement charges.
Meanwhile, the hosting company hired by Megaupload to store the data, a Dulles, Virginia company called Carpathia Hosting, has joined with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in a campaign called megaretrieval.com, appealing for legitimate Megaupload users to be given the means to recover their data.
The servers in question are currently being stored in a warehouse in Virginia, according to Carpathia, making any retrieval scheme for legitimate users potentially difficult. The hosting company was paid $35m (£22m) over several years by Megaupload, according to prosecutors.
Carpathia has argued that it should not be obliged to go on maintaining the data, and in February agreed to sell the servers to Megaupload for $1.2m, but the DOJ objected to Megaupload being given possession of the data.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) said that it copied sufficient data from the Megaupload servers for its case, and is not seeking the destruction of the remaining data.
The DOJ said it has sought to protect the rights of legitimate Megaupload users throughout the prosecution of the case.
“The government made clear that it is not seeking the destruction of the content of the Mega servers,” the DOJ said in a statement provided to the press. “In fact, it was the United States that notified the court and interested parties that the hosting company was contemplating wiping the content of the servers.”
The US government’s position is that the interests of victims must be balanced with the fair prosecution of the case and the need not to waste funds on unnecessary litigation and storage expenses, according to the DOJ.
Show us your Internet piracy knowledge! Try our quiz