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EFF leads charge to save Mega data

By | Published on Wednesday 1 February 2012


One of the companies that hosted data for the shut down MegaUpload has announced it is supporting efforts by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to rescue the legitimate content stored on the Mega platform.

As previously reported, the entire Mega business was shut down by the US authorities last month over allegations the multi-million dollar enterprise was built on the back of mass copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering. As part of the shut down, the Mega websites, which were mainly hosted by two Virginia-based server companies, were taken offline with no warning.

Although some, many and possibly most Mega customers used the firm’s platform to share and access unlicensed music, movies and TV shows, the MegaUpload file-transfer and digital locker service did have legitimate uses, to help people distribute and store their own content and files. Since MegaUpload was taken offline users have been unable to access those files, and there are fears the server companies whose hardware the data is stored on might delete the content, given the Mega company is no longer paying its bills and all its bank accounts having been frozen.

The US authorities which orchestrated the Mega shut down have so far washed their hands of any legitimate data that is currently inaccessible to its owners, and which could still be deleted, though the lawyer representing Team Mega said earlier this week that he had negotiated with the two hosting companies – Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications – that no files would be deleted for at least a fortnight.

Carpathia went further yesterday, and said it would hold onto the data for as long as possible, and would give the world seven days notice before anything happened to files stored on its servers. Explaining that, for undisclosed reasons (possibly technical, possibly legal), it couldn’t currently access Mega files stored on its servers, Carpathia urged any affected customers unable to access legitimate content to contact the Electronic Frontier Foundation which is investigating legal routes to ensure former Mega customers can get their data back. The two organisations have set up a website called containing information for affected people.

In a statement, the CMO of Carpathia Hosting, Brian Winter, told reporters: “Carpathia does not have access to any data for MegaUpload customers. [But] we support the EFF and their efforts to help those users that stored legitimate, non-infringing files with MegaUpload to retrieve their data”.

Meanwhile EFF attorney Julie Samuels added: “EFF is troubled that so many lawful users of had their property taken from them without warning and that the government has taken no steps to help them. We think it’s important that these users have their voices heard as this process moves forward”.

One would have thought there was a great opportunity here for the movie studios and music majors who pressured the US authorities to shut down the Mega business to score some positive PR points by backing efforts to enable legitimate MegaUpload users to retrieve their data. While it’s not clear what percentage of Mega users hosted legitimate content on the web firm’s platform – and it may be small -in standing by and quietly watching those users’ data be deleted the entertainment giants are opening themselves up to serious charges of hypocrisy – “hey Mr Congressman, pass new laws to protect our content, but as for your content Mr Voter, fuck you, who cares?”

And in the context of the successes enjoyed by the Wikipedia-led protest against new anti-piracy laws in the US last month, and with an albeit anonymous online group now proposing a month long boycott of the entertainment industries in March, the music majors and movie studios could do with some positive PR just now.