Attorney General set to destroy tens of millions of users' legitimate MegaUpload files

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159 Responses to “Attorney General set to destroy tens of millions of users' legitimate MegaUpload files”

  1. Matthew says:

    Due Process?  What’s that?

    • D Wyatt says:

      “Due Process?  What’s that?”

      Easy one, Under the current regime all Americans are DUE to be PROCESSED. 

      • Jacob R says:

        Due Process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects individual persons from it. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due-process violation, which offends against the rule of law.

  2. bolamig says:

    When the clouds burst.

  3. Jason Ramboz says:

    Of course, it will be much easier for the US government to assert that all or most of the content hosted on MegaUpload was illegal if they don’t have that pesky “evidence” thing to dispute their claims.

    • EH says:

      Why would they need evidence? The point is to establish that they can do this if they want to, regardless of due process, evidence, and all the other legalisms we little people have been taught.

    • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

      One wonders how much of the data they managed to suck down themselves before this.  Did they start a fishing trip through peoples lives, and then notice they had grabbed tons of stuff they had no rights to and it would be a nightmare if it came out how much they took.
      Or is this preemptive, the spin is its Mega’s fault for not paying their bills… if we overlook the Government having seized all of their cash.
      There are already groups organizing to sue to get their data back, not like people storing pirated files would open themselves up for this.

      They seized all of these as being part of this criminal enterprise, and now they are just letting them get wiped… this is more punishment than anything else.
      The case is flimsy, and this was more about trying to stop Mega from launching a death shot against UMG and the other music companies.
      They want to ruin the cyberlocker industry, and they’ve done a bang up job of it. 

  4. quentin says:

    There may be a bit of an overreaction here, don’t you think?

    Let’s say the bar down the street regularly sells to minors, knowingly breaking the law. When that bar gets busted and has their license taken away and are shut down, the legitimate customers don’t have a right to still go buy beer there. The proprietors broke the law, their business gets shut down because of it. Yes, it sucks for the regular neighborhood people who used the bar legally, but their anger should be directed to a company that knowingly broke the law and put their business at risk, not at the laws that are being properly enforced. I do not side with the MPAA or any of the media morons on anything, but the outrage that legitimate users are being punished is misplaced anger. The legitimate users should be upset at MU for doing illegal crap.

    • Ryan_T_H says:

      I think a better analogy is a storage rental place. The cops discover that some customers used their units to store drugs in. So they decide to burn down the entire building without letting any other customers retrieve their belonging first.

      • quentin says:

        Fair enough, though it wasn’t just that there were other rental customers using it for illegal purposes, but that the storage facility and it’s owners were using the facility to launder money and smuggle drugs. And even the legitimate users knew about the smuggling.

        In that case the police would most likely seize everything and hold it for some indefinite period of time for investigation anyway.

        It’s a bummer that people are going to lose stuff because of this, but I think the majority of the blame still needs to lie with MU for putting it’s users at risk.  The system is broken, and because of it, some legitimate users are going to suffer, but I find it hard to believe that anyone was using MU without knowing that MU was doing or at the very least facilitating some shady stuff.

        I don’t think it’s going to be a sign of some huge government action to shut down every file sharing site out there. MU did some very shady behind the scenes stuff to get shut down, the comparisons to Dropbox and such are unwarranted because the owners of those other services aren’t actively breaking the law and leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to be busted.

        • percysowner says:

          Seizing and holding if very different from destroying completely.  If something is seized and held, the innocent users can get their possessions or in this case legal documents back.  If the government wipes the files, there is no way to recover legitimate files.

          Now the government could “seize and hold” the files by copying them to servers and making certain that the data is logged so that the users can be found and the files can be returned to them at some point in time. 

          I do think that Megaupload will have a good argument at trial.  After all, if the government only keeps the evidence that supports their case and deliberately destroys exculpatory evidence, I think a good defense attorney could use that to the advantage of MU. 

          This is a messy case and using St. Dominic’s choice of burn them all and let God decide violates the people who were using the service legally and violates the rights of MU to defend itself properly.

          • quentin says:

            It’s the data center removing access to the files due to not being paid, not the government directly. It’s an unfortunate result of doing business with someone who’s breaking the law.

        • Sagodjur says:

          “I find it hard to believe that anyone was using MU without knowing that MU was doing or at the very least facilitating some shady stuff.”

          Not everyone who used Megaupload lived in a country where what Megaupload did was illegal. Not everyone necessarily knew that any of Megaupload’s activities were illegal in some places and unless you can prove it, your disbelief in their ignorance is irrelevant. The property of innocent renters of storage space should have their property returned to them.

        • goopy says:

          [Quote]
          Fair enough, though it wasn’t just that there were other rental customers using it for illegal purposes, but that the storage facility and it’s owners were using the facility to launder money and smuggle drugs. And even the legitimate users knew about the smuggling.
          [/Quote]
          How do you know that for sure that they are doing this intentionally? Just because there are people who use it with criminal intent doesn’t make MU an accessory. It’s like shutting down GLock company because glocks were used in school shootings.

          [Quote]I think the majority of the blame still needs to lie with MU for putting it’s users at risk.[/Quote]
          Until the verdict is passed, it’s just an accusation at this point, and the government can’t do such on accusation alone. I blame the government for acting like an authoritarian.

        • lightsgeek25 says:

          “I find it hard to believe that anyone was using MU without knowing that MU was doing or at the very least facilitating some shady stuff.”

          Your problem here is that you are applying basic logic to this.  Odds are there are lots of people out there that have no idea that MU could even be used for illegal sharing of data.

          I’ve met some pretty ignorant people when it comes to the internet and computers.

          I honestly have a boss that is 46, used computer for the last 9 years to do time sheets, but still types with one finger and does not know how to create a calendar in excel.  He just takes the same file as last week’s and manually changes it.  You’d think after 9 years that he would get it… but no.

          I’ve come to the conclusion that when it comes to computers/internet you can never assume that everyone understands what they are doing or even comprehend basic computing.  This example is kind of off topic, but I could easily apply this him and see him as using MU to download files from a link friends sent him of a illegal MP3 and he honestly has no idea that what he did is ‘stealing’.  Although he probably had to have someone help him download it and copy to his iPod…

        • coffee100 says:

          It’s a bummer that people are going to lose stuff because of this, but I think the majority of the blame still needs to lie with MU for putting it’s users at risk.

          Destroying any property without due process is a black-letter, willful, direct and deliberate violation of the law.

          • V10_Rob says:

            I say destroy the files, so that they can twist themselves into a pretzel explaining that data isn’t property.

            Then if data isn’t property in the traditional sense, and isn’t important enough to be subject to the same legal protections as physical property, then the MPAA and friends have barely a leg to stand on. 

        • GregS says:

          Re: “It’s the data center removing access to the files due to not being paid, not the government directly ”

          Not relevant. In a legal case like this, all of those files are evidence and the government has the duty to preserve them for when the case goes to court. Normally they’d get an injunction against the company hosting the files requiring them to preserve them until the government can take possession. Allowing the files to be wiped is destruction of evidence, pure and simple.

        • zyodei says:

          I think the comparison to drug smuggling is apt, because that too is a victimless, fabricated, non-crime.

          • quentin says:

            Victimless? Come on, I hate the MPAA as much as the next guy, but as a copyright holder myself, theft of someone else’s work is absolutely not a victimless crime. Just because you place no value in the work people do to create certain things, doesn’t mean they don’t value it.

            The MPAA and all of those huge distribution companies need to get with the times and stop leveraging their lobby sway to conduct business in a shitty way, but copyright still needs to be upheld. While they may only be allegations at this stage, the evidence against MU isn’t looking good.

          • wysinwyg says:

            Stop calling it “theft” and people might listen to you.  I’m not anti-copyright, but I am anti-propaganda and anti-disingenuousness.  Call it what it is: copyright infringement. 

        • loroferoz says:

          Then please don’t complain if and when your car is seized and auctioned off because somebody smoked a joint in it, even if you did not know and could not prevent it. It has happened in real life too. It should not. Not with cars, or files.

        • D Wyatt says:

          There really is no polite way of saying this so here goes.  You are a freaking idiot.  Your analogies are ridiculous, its clear to anyone with an IQ over 75 that what the gov is doing is WRONG.  No way to rationalize it, or generalize it , and your “drug” fear mongering is just a joke.  The biggest drug dealers on earth buy laws monthly and senators as well. Big Pharma.  The biggest thieves and threat to the American way are in fact the ones in charge. 

          /It truly is a sad day when good honest people fear the destructive thieving and idiotic hypocrisy that is America’s government more than they fear criminals and terrorists…….
          Its fool sheep like u that will likely be chomping at the bit to trade your last rights away, under a veil of “SAFETY”

          Under the current regime you have no rights, can be killed without trial or for that matter killed for standing within 50 feet of a “target”
          American citizens can literally be kidnapped by there government flow to some other country, be tortured and even killed if not indefinitely detained.  Now they can destroys millions of peoples information because of a few. 

          PS the storage analogy made by Ryan was much more clear and to the point.  They arent “storing evidence” as you suggest but instead PERMANENTLY DESTROYING non-evidence from innocent people as well as the few who used the site wrongfully.  

          The fact is big business and foreign investors own America and they abuse it like a red headed step child or a $2 crack whore.  Keep telling yourself this wont spiral into a never ending abyss of censorship, rights violations and rampant destruction and Ill keep telling myself the FACTS.

    • Jason Ramboz says:

      I don’t think your analogy really addresses the situation. In that case, legitimate customers can go elsewhere to get the same alcohol that they were getting from the closed bar.

      This is more analogous to, say, a bank vault of safety deposit boxes, some unknown number of which are holding illegal materials (of which the bank knows and approves, even tacitly). This situation is as if the police seized and destroyed the contents of ALL the safety deposit boxes. In this case, the owners of those boxes may have no way to replace their contents or even to recoup any financial losses from their destruction.

      Should the people in this situation be angry at the bank for breaking the law? Yes. Should they be even ANGRIER at the police for knowingly and unnecessarily destroying irreplaceable personal property? Hell yes.

    • JamesHession says:

      The bar analogy is a bit off. It’s more relative to a storage facility that gets shut down for having allowed some of it’s customers to store illegal merchandise. Then the storage facility being shut down and all of the legitimate customers belongings being burned without being given a chance to retrieve them.

    • coffee100 says:

      If one of that bar’s customers left their wallet there, it doesn’t give the authorities that shut down the bar the right to build an enormous bonfire and incinerate the wallet in the name of justice.

    • zyodei says:

      Or, say, that the cops rushed into the bar and chased all the customers out, and many of them left their jackets and wallets inside. But the police won’t allow them to go back in and retrieve their personal goods, and instead consciously choose to burn them all.

      Or, to refine it even further, the cops confiscated the bars assets, so they could no longer pay their rent, and took no action to either return the possessions to the customers, or allow the imprisoned bar owners to do so.

      Oh, and the wallets and jackets contained the whole of the evidence that the bar was selling to minors.

      That’s more like it.

  5. quentin says:

    Also, let’s be realistic, how much of MU’s storage was really being used for legitimate purposes? Who would deal with the ad-laden, horrible situation that MU was to store photos/files when things like flickr, dropbox, and google docs are all free and far less intrusive?

    • Ryan_T_H says:

      As a percentage? Probably not that high. As an absolute number probably a lot.

    • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

      How will we ever find out if they just allow everything to be deleted wholesale?
      They claim paying for hosting is laundering money, I don’t trust them to honestly answer what was deleted.

      • quentin says:

        I am not saying I support the deletion of the files, just that I don’t believe this is some precursor to the big bad Government deleting my online life all willy-nilly. Which seems to be some of the mentality surrounding this case. This isn’t the government going after some service on the up and up. It’s the government shutting down a service that knowingly, willingly, and proudly broke the law. The laws may need changed, but not to protect people like those who ran MU.

        • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

          This is the same Government that took down Dajaz1 for a YEAR on the basis of claims of infringement from the record labels.  They played games for a year, lied to the media, judges, the defendants…  Then they noticed that the “infringing” material was actually sent to them by the labels with instructions to POST IT AND SHARE IT.

          This was a worldwide seizure, shutdown, and manhunt for people accused of making copyright infringement easier.

          How many banks have been raided and seized for their transactions that destroyed the economy?

          On the scale of things… one should be WAY more important to the Government… and they voted for copyright.

        • Ianto_Jones says:

          This isn’t the government going after some service on the up and up. It’s the government shutting down a service that knowingly, willingly, and proudly
          ALLEGEDLY broke the law.

          There I fixed that for you.

          MegaUpload has not been tried or convicted in a court of law of any wrongdoing at this point.  Everything you are claiming and that the government is claiming are all allegations at this point.   

          Despite this, all of MegaUpload’s assets, and millions of users’ legitimate files, have been confiscated (aka stolen) at the behest of the US government…probably never to be returned. 

          THAT is theft.  And it is also a complete denial of due process rights.

        • EH says:

          I don’t believe this is some precursor to the big bad Government deleting my online life all willy-nilly

          You’re right, it’s not a precursor. It’s the real deal.

    • Andrew Singleton says:

      Used Megaupload a few years back when I kept swapping OS’s around for things I didn’t want deleted but didn’t have enough local stowage media to handle it (and collectively was over the attachment size of yahoo.)

      Mind you that was before Dropbox and other cyberlocker services got going.Might not be much material value in a load of pictures from my brother’s graduation, but I’d be pissed as hell if they got destroyed.

  6. cleek says:

    nobody could have known that storing data at Shady Bob’s Wink-Wink-No-Tell Bit Locker wasn’t such a great idea.

    • percysowner says:

      Did I know that people used MU for illegal purposes? Yes, but that didn’t stop me from recommending that my daughter use it as a backup when she wrote her masters thesis in case her computer crashed or if it was lost in a fire.  It was a way to get to her paper is she wanted to work at it at the public library or any other place not at home.  She opted to not back up at all and graduated in August with no problems, but we seriously talked about using MU as a way of protecting our computer data.

      • quentin says:

        I’m honestly curious why you would make that recommendation when there is a slew of better services geared to such use?

        • zyodei says:

          What’s wrong with them? You store files, they reliably store them. They have ads, so do lots of sites. Your reaction is knee-jerk.

          • quentin says:

            I suppose, there’s nothing “wrong” with them, per se, but if you’re a even mildly tech savvy person, which I may have incorrectly assumed, given his frequenting of boing boing, then I would just assume that, for the purpose he describes, MegaUpload is a horrendous solution. Dropbox, Box.net, Sugarsync, etc. all have the ability to do what he suggested, without the added step of jumping through MUs hoops in order to simply store files. If he wanted to help his daughter easily and reasonably back up her thesis files, then why would you suggest something as cumbersome as MU when free alternatives like Dropbox, backblaze, etc. seamlessly integrate into the filesystem itself, and don’t actually require her to put forth any further effort to ensure the safety of her files.

          • @egojab:disqus DropBox is great!  But many of the features, such as file system integration, aren’t useful if you’re mostly using shared library computers.  I also think DropBox is better, but that’s not the issue here.

            The fact that one of these file hosting cloud services can be taken down and refuse users access to their data is a problem, regardless of which brand we affiliate ourselves with.

      • cleek says:

        for a temporary drop area, yeah, no problem. i’ve done similar things.

        but the article makes it sound like people were using this as permanent storage of irreplaceable data.

  7. Joshua Ochs says:

    Anyone who was trusting such a service for their only copy of data was a fool. Let me be blunt – no one was storing their “family photos” and “financial records” on freaking *MegaUpload*.

    Leaving aside the sketchiness of MU for a moment, this is also why you do not trust your only copy of data to the cloud. The cloud can be a good backup, it can be convenient, and it can be the right way to manage a project – but it should not be considered reliable.

    • Jason Ramboz says:

      I completely agree with you as regards storing data on the cloud. (No sarcasm.)

      Fortunately, in this case, we know that all users of computers and the Internet are very responsible in their usage and never do anything foolish with their data, so there couldn’t possibly be any problem. (Theeeeeeere’s the sarcasm.)

      • Well, you’re right, but until someone comes forward and says they have family photos, college homework, and stuff like that hosted solely on MegaUpload, the entire post is absolute rubbish.  Maybe I’m too much of an Internet veteran but I don’t see people even TRUSTING a site called “megaupload.”  Other than “filesharing.com” or something there is no domain name more indicative of a filesharing intention.

        I’m also pretty sure that the EULA (if there was one) on megaupload would have stated that they’re not responsible for the content of the files, nor their safe keeping.

        • With all the users of that service, I don’t think it’s a stretch to accept that at least one person used it as a sole repository for some of their data rather than a backup service.

          However, the fact that people claimed to use it as a backup service still makes a strong argument for their need for access to this data; the reason people back things up is because their main copies occasionally get deleted, corrupted or destroyed.  If I backed up on MU, or any other service for that matter, I’d want my files to be protected – otherwise, what’s the point?  This is why the post is not absolute rubbish.

          By ‘filesharing intention’, do you mean illegal filesharing?  I disagree that the name ‘Mega Upload’ suggests illegal activities or that it suggests it’s not a service for private backups.  Perhaps it does to you, who has some knowledge of the service’s real-world uses, but this by no means a universal reading.

          I think you’re right about the EULA, though.  Legally, they’ve probably protected themselves and this may make it more difficult for users to recover their data.  (I have my own arguments about why EULAs are irrelevant to agreements in practice that I won’t go into here!)

    • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

      No one would believe random Nigerian Price is going to share millions with them either…
      How many people get taken by this scam and its variants everyday?
      How many people click a random link of Facebook and then install the special “codec” to see the awesome video?
      The best case scenario and best practices are not always followed.

    • Nonentity says:

      “Let me be blunt – no one was storing their “family photos” and “financial records” on freaking *MegaUpload*.”

      Let’s get this proven before we blithely cheer about the data being destroyed, eh?

      Until there are actual numbers available of the amounts of noninfringing data that was stored on this service, that is entirely speculation.  And just one person doing it would invalidate your “blunt” statement.

    • Andrew Singleton says:

      Let’s use Me as an example. As said in an earlier reply to somebody else I used Mega to dump a few things on between formats. I’d been using google docs, Dropbox, and a couple other places to act as a stowaway spot for my bits. Haven’t used Megaupload for photodumps in ages out of fear something like this would end up happening.

      On the other hand it also let me get a copy of those same misc goodies (writings, picures, a couple wallpapers) over to a friend cross county. Dropbox could do the job now, but this was back in 08. I didn’t know about dropbox back then, nor had google docs (why? beats me. I still don’t use docs for much other than a stowage for half done stories mainly.)

    • wysinwyg says:

      Let me be blunt – no one was storing their “family photos” and “financial records” on freaking *MegaUpload*.

      Let me be blunt.  You don’t have any more evidence for this conclusion than anyone else does for its opposite.  Why state as fact what is very obviously just your opinion?  (And of course someone on the thread already claimed to be keeping family photos on MU.)

  8. fnord snafu says:

    Okay…but should the neighbors have their fridges cleared of the beer they bought from the liquor store that sold to minors?

  9. Wisconsin Platt says:

    There are three “Givens” in Life:  Death, Taxes and Data Loss. 
    Storage you don’t own isn’t storage you control.

  10. J. VanDusen says:

    That bar analogy isn’t quite right. Patrons wouldn’t own and store their own beverages there. It’s more like a storage rental facility that is being shut down because a number of people are storing stolen goods there. Except instead of letting the customers take their stuff elsewhere, the whole place gets burned to the ground. 

    • Ianto_Jones says:

      This is a good analogy, but instead of the whole place getting burned to the ground it is like if the police shut the place down, removed everything of value from all of the lockers, and then sold it all at auction in order to buy themselves some shiny new urban assault vehicles and jack boots.

  11. VicqRuiz says:

    Note that the government and its mafiaa cronies are NOT bringing the servers down.  It’s Megaupload’s data vendors who are threatening to do this because they are not being paid.

    This could happen to any company, for any number of reasons.  Megaupload’s owners could have invested the company’s assets with the next Madoff, or just stolen the money themselves, or simply overextended their business plan and wound up out of cash.

    My point is that to trust a third party (whose management is not transparent to you) with the only copy of irreplaceable data is no better than trusting your dog with your homework.  I will  give up my backup HDD’s in favor of “the cloud” when they pry my cold, dead hands…..

    • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

      Note it is the Government that has frozen all of the assets of Mega, making it impossible for them to pay the bills.
      Note these were seized as part of evidence in a criminal proceeding that has yet to happen, and now they Feds will allow them to be wiped clean before a day in court when there could be evidence contained on them.
      Nothing like stacking the deck…
      Why yes Jury everything on those servers was pirated.
      Can you prove that?
      We said it was, it must be true.

      • Warren Grant says:

        Were I the defense lawyer for MU, I would have a field day during the Discovery phase. “Your Honor, we request that the all data on my client’s servers be included in this case because it obviously has a strong bearing on whether or not the data being stored was legitimate”. If the Prosecution is unable to produce the key data required – and furthermore can be shown to have known it was going to be destroyed and made no effort to prevent it – then case dismissed.

      • quentin says:

        That’s MegaUpload’s fault for doing illegal activities…

  12. I am afraid that I have seen this marching down Fifth Street since the concept of “Cloud” was made clear to me: turn your things over for safekeeping to people who do not have the ability to keep them safe.   Additionally, turning your things over for safekeeping to people who really just want all your money is also a bad idea.  Holding your stuff for ransom is not what this case is about… but I do predict that it will happen.  (Soon?)

  13. J. VanDusen says:

    Correction: The storage facility takes everybody’s stuff out back and burns it, making room for new clients. Also, that stuff may or may not be replicas of stuff the renters already have…

  14. Justin Runia says:

    Files aren’t being destroyed, COPIES of files are being destroyed.  It would be helpful if you piracy-agnostic dudes would stay consistent with your logic.  What is being lost on behalf of Megaupload customers is the right to distribute files over the internet–only very foolish people would let their only copy of ANYTHING live on a web server, much less one they don’t run (and is in fact run by shady people like Kim Dotcom).

    • Jason Ramboz says:

      And again, we all know that no one on the Internet ever does anything foolish or irresponsible with their data, right?

    • mccrum says:

      Thankfully the world has gotten rid of all of it’s very foolish people…

      Seriously, just because people are smart doesn’t mean that individual persons always do smart things.  Otherwise we wouldn’t have let Wal Mart switch from supporting American owned businesses.

    • VicqRuiz says:

      “COPIES of files are being destroyed” – in that case, MU’s lawyer is simply full of so much bullshit when he says (at the linked article)

      Mega needs funds unfrozen ….. in order to allow consumers to get access to their data stored in the Mega cloud and to back up the same for safekeeping

      Which he probably is, of course.

      How is “the right to distribute files over the Internet” at risk here?  Has someone (for example) un-invented FTP??

    • zyodei says:

      You are confused, sir.

      Copying is not theft, because it is non-destructive.

      But just because something can or has been copied, doesn’t mean that destroying it is OK!

      The only reason you think Dotcom is shady is because that is the line the media has been shitting down your mouth. He is a father of three who has successfully been running a useful and legit business for years.

      • Peter says:

        So… what you’re saying is: you maintain that you have a moral right to control your data, your… I’m looking for a word here to encapsulate the concept… your “intellectual property,” even if it physically resides on a computer you yourself don’t own? Interesting. I think that idea might have some legs on it.

        • wysinwyg says:

          No, what he’s saying is that if you have a contract with a private entity to safeguard something — not just digital data but physical stuff too — and that private entity has its assets seized then the institution (the government) responsible for seizing those assetts is also responsible for preservation of the stuff — digital or physical — that is being held by the private entity according to the legal contracts it holds.

          This principle applies just as much to the storage locker scenario as it does to MU.  It has absolutely nothing to do with “computer you yourself don’t own.”  Nice try though.

          • Peter says:

            Hey, I wasn’t disagreeing with the notion of a moral right to digital property equivalent to comparable physical property.  Quite the opposite.

      • Justin Runia says:

        No, it’s not okay that MegaUpload apparently didn’t backup the files they were backing up for their customers.  I’m sorry for the people who were conned into thinking MU was a legit business, but it has nothing to do with the US legal action against that company.  Any halfway decent storage/server operation is going to keep redundant backups of their users data, then again, I see no evidence that Kim Dotcom was ever interested in running a halfway decent storage operation at all.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Dotcom

    • “only very foolish people would let their only copy of ANYTHING live on a web server”

      So people should keep backups?  I agree.  But what happens if their local files become unreadable and you need to retrieve a backup?

      Disregarding all the ‘stupid people’ who don’t keep local copies, can’t you see a problem here for the ‘intelligent people’ who use a free (or cheap) external service to backup files in the cloud?

    • Peter says:

      I’m pretty sure that under piracy agnostic logic, those copies don’t even belong to the uploaders anymore. The file and the right to do whatever you want with it belongs to the person who owns the computer it’s on, right? Isn’t that the whole point of piracy agnosticism?

      • wysinwyg says:

        I’m pretty sure you’re making up a position that no one actually holds.  Once again, it would be nice if people could argue honestly about copyright issues.  Apparently that’s too much to ask of copyright zealots.

        • Peter says:

          I am arguing honestly. I don’t see how the “copying isn’t theft” argument can rely on any principle other than a belief that a person does not retain a moral right to control material that is in the possession of another person. Isn’t the principle being argued for that ownership rights should rest entirely in the holder of the storage device?

          If that is not what is being said, then what exactly IS the nature of the ownership right acknowledged in the “copying isn’t theft” argument? If the argument isn’t a wholly intellectually bankrupt attempt to justify trampling on the rights of other people to get some free stuff, then it should probably explain what, if any, ownership right it DOES recognize. Because from over here, I don’t understand how you can simultaneously claim that a person cannot exercise an ownership right over intellectual property in the hands of others and also claim to own data transferred to a computer you don’t own.

    • wysinwyg says:

      Files aren’t being destroyed, COPIES of files are being destroyed.  It would be helpful if you piracy-agnostic dudes would stay consistent with your logic.

      It would be helpful if you could be consistent with ANY logic.  A file is a file.  A copy of a file is also a file.  Destroying files is destroying files.  Destroying copies of files is also destroying files.  What do you think a file even is?

      • Justin Runia says:

        A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…
        A large part of the under-pinning of piracy agnostocism is that since a COPY is being made, digital piracy is non-destructive, at least when compared to y’know, actual piracy.  This goes both ways: people are COPYING files to the MU servers, so they are not losing the files when the poorly managed operation goes down.  What people are losing when MU goes down is the ability to serve the files over the internet and piece of mind of knowing that their backups were stored in a secure off-site location (again: who uploads stuff to the cloud and then deletes it off their disk?)  the fact that people are losing their piece of mind regarding backups isn’t the fault of the government, because any halfway-decent cloud storage company is going to have redundant backups, that’s the whole point of their business…

        • wysinwyg says:

          You apparently don’t understand the extremely simple concept of why “piracy agnostics” (never heard that term before and not really sure what you mean by it) mention the relevance of copying.

          You see, it’s only relevant because copyright zealots insist on using this language where copyright infringement is the same as stealing.  But IT’S NOT THE SAME AS STEALING.  This is because copying something does not imply the loss of that thing to the owner.

          On the other hand, destroying something — whether it is a copy or an original — DOES IMPLY THE LOSS OF THAT THING BY THE OWNER.  Do you understand the difference between copying something and destroying something (they’re very nearly opposites)?  Your argument makes no sense and is completely irrelevant to the question at hand.

          Edit: Please note I’m not saying copyright infringement isn’t bad or that it shouldn’t be illegal. I’m just saying that it’s not the same as stealing. Destroying a person’s property, on the other hand, is at least as bad as stealing seeing as it deprives that person of the thing destroyed (which copyright infringement doesn’t do).

    • OtherMichael says:

      I suppose you religiously download your mail each and every day?

      If so, that doesn’t exactly put in the mainstream, you know.

      The cloud exists to keep people from having to keep local copies.

      • Justin Runia says:

        “The cloud” is marketing BS that doesn’t really exist.  It’s the internet.  Things live on servers.  Either you own a server, or you’re renting storage and connectivity from someone else. 

  15. So, our collective POV is that it’s okay to host one’s ONLY copy of IMPORTANT data on a filesharing website?  The data that’s so important that we have our only copy online, but not important enough to burn it to DVD to keep a copy “just in case.”

    That’s our POV, really?  REALLY?

    • Jason Ramboz says:

      Stating that something DOES happen is not the same as stating that it SHOULD happen.

    • mccrum says:

      My POV is not to host any copies in the cloud but I can easily see where a good number of dimwits would not follow my recommended practices but instead upload to the magical cloud.

      MegaUpload, for all it’s faults, wasn’t a file sharing service as much as it was a service similar to any ftp site.  There was also the subset called MegaPix that was similar to PhotoBucket or ImageShack, which some people use as storage instead.

    • Nonentity says:

      It’s really not that unusual.  In my experience, a surprising number of companies need serious nudges (and even incentives) to convince them not to store server backups on the same hard drive they’re backing up, and I’ve even seen it done on raid 0 (yes, 0) arrays.  I don’t have any problem believing that less computer-savvy people could lose data due to the only copy being on a site like this.

      Is it smart?  No.  But it’s also not okay to use that lapse of judgement to rationalize the unnecessary loss of data.

    • zyodei says:

      Of course you shouldn’t. 

      But just because you handwrote your term paper without doing the obvious backup of making any photocopies of it, doesn’t mean it’s OK for me to come and burn your paper.

  16. Mujokan says:

    Analogies are all pointless. The Feds said they’ve gotten all the evidence they wanted, and so they have no legal right to prevent the people hosting the files from deleting them. If the hosts want to go delete the files now that discovery is complete, then they can.

    The Feds don’t have a mandate to force these private companies to host data when they are not being paid. Now, it sucks that the assets of the company paying the hosts got frozen as soon as the case came down, and can’t be used to keep paying the hosts (assuming MegaUpload chose to use their funds to keep doing that, instead of for, say, paying for their legal defense). That is a different question of law.

    In any case, the Feds are destroying nothing.

    • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

      These were not seized as part of discovery, these were seized as part of a global shutdown because a Grand Jury who heard a 1 sided story indicted the company. 
      There still has been no trial or adversarial process.
      The contents of these servers could show that the Government was incorrect in its assessment of how much content was actually infringing.
      This is the Feds attempting to cripple Mega and leave a public perception to not use cyberlockers, which is what the content industry wants.
      The Feds have control of the entirety of Mega, they are allowing the data to be destroyed – even in the face of the fact that they have seized non-infringing material they still are blocking the rightful owners of those files from retrieving them.

      • Mujokan says:

        While the Feds were gathering evidence, deletion was not allowed. Now they say they’ve finished. What’s the process for stopping the hosts from deleting the data? MegaUpload outsourced storage.

        • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

          Your car was in a parking lot where a shooting happened.
          Your car was towed as part of an investigation.
          Instead of giving you a chance to get the car they have it crushed.
          And this to you sounds correct?

          • Mujokan says:

            Ok, let’s play the analogy game.

            I rent a van from Hertz. I use this van as mobile storage for my friend’s books. I am indicted in a book theft investigation where the van is evidence. My assets are frozen and I can no longer pay Hertz for the rental. The van is impounded by the Feds while they search it. Once they have finished, the van is returned to Hertz, and they can do what they like with it.

            Does that sound correct to you? Who is to blame if my friends can’t get their books back? The FBI, Hertz, me, or my friends?

          • lafave says:

            “Who is to blame if my friends can’t get their books back? The FBI, or Hertz?”

            Yes

          • Mujokan says:

            In the analogy, the books in the van should be photocopies. Sorry, analogies are  a total pain to get right.

        • coffee100 says:

          American Bar Association rule 3.4 

          United States Code Title 18, Sections 1510 and 1519.

          For openers.

          • Mujokan says:

            The sole point is that the prosecution has said that they no longer need to maintain access to discover evidence.

            If the lawyers for MegaUpload want access for purposes of discovery, it’s up to them to ask for it. The prosecution doesn’t have to require the data hosts to maintain the data in case the defense wants to request discovery at some point in the future.

          • coffee100 says:

            If the lawyers for MegaUpload want access for purposes of discovery, it’s up to them to ask for it.

             That’s INSANE!  What the hell planet do you live on?  Have you never heard of rules of evidence?  

            The prosecution doesn’t have to require the data hosts to maintain the data in case the defense wants to request discovery at some point in the future.

            It’s not their decision!  Destruction of evidence in a criminal case is a federal offense!   Bloody hell! 

            Sometimes I wonder if I’ve changed dimensions or something.

          • Mujokan says:

            I’m in the dark over what your points have to do with the fact that the prosecution has announced that they have finished discovery.

            Whatever the prosecution has discovered will be shared with the defense. If the defense wants additional discovery, it is up to them to ask for it. If the data hosts somehow break the law by refusing discovery, they’ll be sanctioned for it. No alternate dimension is involved.

    • coffee100 says:

      Horseshit.  Those files are evidence in a Federal Court.  They can never be destroyed.  To do so would be destruction of evidence.

      They must be made available to the defendant so they can prepare a defense. (Due Process)  They must then be returned to their rightful owners once the case is heard and adjudicated. (Fifth Amendment property rights)

      That’s the law.

    • zyodei says:

      If I steal (sorry, ‘freeze’) all your money, and you can’t pay the heating bill for your house, and consequently your pipes freeze and the water damage destroys the house…yes, I absolutely have a huge culpability in destroying your house. You could even say I destroyed it.

      P.S. I think you need to look up the definition of ‘discovery.’ It does not mean the prosecutors getting all the data they want and denying the defense any access at all.

      • Mujokan says:

        As I said, asset forfeiture sucks. It is widely abused in the US, as well. It’s not destruction of evidence, though. If MegaUpload wants the evidence they can ask for it.

        • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

          And that can happen when, as they are being held outside of the US waiting for a hearing on extradition.  They haven’t even heard the charges against them yet read in a court room.

  17. Stooge says:

    If what’s claimed in the post is true, one of the following statements must also be true:
    i) MegaUpload does not back up its servers.
    ii) MegaUpload does not own the media its servers are backed up on.

    In short, they’re either liars or incompetent.

    • mccrum says:

      Can’t they be both?

    • Thought experiment:

      I both don’t back up the games I buy on Steam, and don’t own the media their servers are backed up on. Does this make me a liar or incompetent?
      (in respect to Mega*’s context, of course. A hypothetical Steam taking its place for this experiment)
      Let’s say that Gabe Newell(another rich fat guy that collects expensive stuff!) had done the same things as Kim “Dotcom” and your scenario. Would he be a liar or incompetent for doing the same as Kim?

      A lot of people(businessmen or not) don’t back up their servers filled with gigabytes/terabytes of data, and a lot of people don’t “own” a lot of things that they buy lately, it’s kind of a sad double edged sword kind of thing nowadays

      Truth is, we can set up informal fallacies and non sequitur anecdotes all day, but it really doesn’t get us closer to making a valid point.
      I should probably take my own advice..

    • zyodei says:

      or iii) the backups were confiscated too

      I’ll tell you what I think is most likely.

  18. That_Anonymous_Coward says:

    I love this idea that no one uses the cloud for only copies…
    Have you looked at a globe lately?
    Do you understand your little corner is not the only piece of the world?
    That storage media in other countries is much more expensive than the prices you pay, often because of taxes paid to the content industry because it COULD hold pirated data.
    That a cheap/free service like MU was the best option available to you?

    This is like bitching about your McNuggets not having the right dipping sauce, while walking through an African village full of starving people.
    There is more out there than your own view of the world.

    • Justin Runia says:

      You’re asking me to believe that people who have access to computers/cameras/whatever are uploading their files to MU and then deleting them from their local disks.  Frankly, I don’t believe that.  On the outside chance there is someone so credulous to think of MU as anything other than BACKUP/distribution, then I don’t think the government has any particular role than to say “Caveat Emptor”, then point and laugh, Nelson-style.

      • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

        So if the Government seized all of the Gmail servers to get some data, and then wiped them you’d think it was all just fine.

        • Stooge says:

          I would be pissed, but also extremely impressed: Gmail’s data centres are mirrored in multiple jurisdictions and are also backed up to tape in yet another location. MegaUpload’s back-up strategy, on the other hand, seems to be something that was still on their to do list.

        • Justin Runia says:

          Yeah, I would, because I know how email works, and I know I could have set up my own email on my own domain, but I chose not to.  This is not to say that I wouldn’t be PISSED, but that frustration isn’t grounded in anything besides my own sense of entitlement.

      • zyodei says:

        I think that comparing our government to Nelson is appropriate. The bully who kicks sand in your face and then laughs at you because your eyes sting.

  19. machinestate says:

    Think beating SOPA/PIPA is the end?  Big Content won’t rest until you gotta swipe a card just to Pay-per-veiw your own living memories. 

    Within 10 years:
    ROM dealers, and people found in unlawful possession of print,  books, discs and all hard media will will replace drug offenders as the most common offenders under incarceration.  The prison-healthcare-industrial system will dominate every aspect of global commerce and investment.  Your literal social security depends on the success of some redundant, foolproof, disaster-proof, dummy-proof, insider-threat-proof and hacker-proof datacenter, not to mention the whims of its stakeholders, as well as those of the new Copyright Czar and his/her own enforcement agency, the “bit police”.

  20. ocatagon says:

    I’m curious what Megaupload has been found guilty of? When was the trial? I don’t remember them pleading for their defense or the judge handing down a verdict. Isn’t that how things work in this country?

  21. IamInnocent says:

    There really are people who put file in one of those lockers, just one, and keep no backup ?

    I wonder if they’d have a case against the actions of the government ?

    • goopy says:

      There are who sick of having piles of hdd. I was thinking about doing the same thing few months back bcoz of too many hdd on my desk, and starting difficult to manage.

  22. Stephen Young says:

    the question is are the files property and do they have value? they are most defiantly evidence, and since they have been seized its the governments responsibility to “store” them. they also should be making every effort to reunite users with their property. Would it be a mountain of work? yes. does that mean they can just delete everything? no way. I suggest all of you that have/had important files on megaupload contact thier attorneys. If the RIAA/MPAA/ IP owners want to claim a ridiculous amount of financial loss due to file sharing its up to everyone else to claim their own files have a dollar value. conversely, if the government insists on deleting it all it just shows that digital files have no value at all and should just stop wasting money enforcing copyright laws on the internet.

  23. lafave says:

    Wouldn’t the defense seek a court order requiring the hosting companies to retain copies of all data (if that’s what they really wanted)?

    • I think you answered your own question..

    • quentin says:

      Yeah, they would. And yet, everyone is mad at the big bad gubmint here. Even though the defense has every opportunity to stop this from happening. They won’t though, because that’s kind of self incriminating, I imagine.

      • lafave says:

        Well, the government is to blame, really.    And, dude, I was just sort of asking a rhetorical question here based on certain assumptions, like, the defense actually cares about the legitimate files for their defense.

        Maybe the defense wants the files to be deleted wholesale for PR purposes.  Maybe their defense doesn’t hinge on these files at all.  The DMCA safe harbor provisions might be enough, etc.

        Also, quite frankly, I really don’t like any of the comments that you’ve made to this post.  I don’t know if you misunderstand the way that copyright works and is generally misused.  Or about “safe harbor”  or about how the trial usually comes before we start calling indivduals or companies criminals. 

        • quentin says:

          Oh, I understand very well how copyright works. As a creator of copyright works, I’m somewhat appalled at the knee-jerk “down with the government” response to someone, allegedly, stealing other people’s work and having a whole bunch of people on the internet play them as victims just because they hate the people that MU wronged. Yes, the MPAA/RIAA has painted a very poor view of copyright protection. Yes, the MU folks deserve a trial, yes all of these things are important; but, no, I don’t believe the knee jerk defense of MU is beneficial to the system as a whole. And I guess it’s ok to jump straight to the conclusion that the Government is evil and criminal in their actions, without knowing all the facts, but to do the same to MU is the same as personally enacting a 1984 scenario.

          Yes, the government has, at times, overstepped their bounds, but I simply hold no sympathy for MU. If you’re going to do shady shit, fine, I don’t care, but don’t cry foul when you get caught. It sucks for the users who may lose something in this process, but bad shit happens to good people all the time, that’s not going to make me think that MU is worth defending.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            quentin,

            Do you have anything new to add to the discussion?

          • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

            As a creator of copyrighted works then we should look at you in a very different light, because you obviously must be in league with those same people who use copyright to steal others music and videos.  UMG takedown of multiple tracks and videos they do not own.  The people can not have them posted because UMG claims to own them, committing copyfraud.
            We should wonder about your involvement in what should have been a 6 billion dollar settlement in Canada where the label just never got around to paying the artists for the music they were putting on compilation albums, stealing their hard work to profit solely for themselves.
            Then the nerve of 1 of the gang of 3 (or is it 4) who is suing their insurance company to pay their portion of the bill resulting from their blatant disregard for the law they claim is so important.
            You have prejudged Mega on mere accusations, not on cold hard facts.  To support the government action because Mega is a buncha people who deserve it is the first step in a nice slippery slope of deciding that justice doesn’t need to be handed out equally to everyone.  And it is all fun and games until they come for you.

  24. nox says:

    This makes me nervous about all online backup services. What does this mean to the safety of your data on mozy, blackblaze, or crashplan? Surely some people have stored illegal files there.

    • mccrum says:

      As well it should.  Get an external hard drive, save your bandwidth.

      • And put more effort into making regular backups only to lose your main copy and the backup when your house is engulfed by some natural disaster or you have your computer equipment stolen . . .

        I submit that cloud storage (especially with hosting services you don’t have control over) isn’t perfect, but it has a lot going for it.  And the suggestion we’re more intelligent if we use a more difficult technical solution (not explicit in your comment, but present elsewhere others’) just makes us sound like elitist assholes.  Can’t we just accept this is a common practice and work on solutions rather than assigning blame to the users?

        • Justin Runia says:

          It’s not a question of intelligence, it’s about trust: why would you trust a third party with your only copy of any given file?  You wouldn’t, any more than you would trust the government.  So it strikes me a more than a little bizarre that anyone would suggest that this is an advisible policy–nay, a human right.

    • lookslikesomeone says:

      The key difference with those services is they encrypt the user’s data before it leaves the local machine. On the server side, all the backup service can see is chunks of encrypted data, for which they have no way of determining the content. You’d have a much harder time proving criminal copyright infringement if the data was encrypted to begin with.

      It’s worth noting that Dropbox does *not* work this way – Dropbox does encrypt the data on the user side, but can readily determine a file’s contents if necessary. If you need to use Dropbox to transfer something privately, you can encrypt the data yourself before uploading it, however you lose the benefit of Dropbox’s caching mechanism by doing that. It’s a trade off.

  25. BBNinja says:

    While it’s evident that Kim Douchecom was intentionally and knowingly profiting off of copyrighted works, it still doesn’t excuse the matter in which this “sting” was carried out, including the apparent abuse of rights and due process.

    • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

      Assumes facts not actually in evidence.
      Your taking the word of a Government that branded hundreds of websites at sellers of kiddy porn because they did not understand subdomains.
      Your talking about a Government who on the mere accusation of a record label seized a music blog for being a rogue site, only to discover a year later when they FINALLY looked at the evidence that the music had been sent by the company with instructions to post and share it.

  26. coffee100 says:

    This about wraps it up for the “cloud” one would think. 

    I sometimes wonder if Americans even know their rights are being violated any more.  I wonder if people are so deliberately stupid that they cannot avoid becoming the subjects of a completely unrestrained centralized government whose only object is to aggrandize and arrogate to itself unlimited power without regard to the consent of the governed?  

    What I do know is there are numerous agitators in the marketplace whose habit is to bark at anyone who speaks rationally and thoughtfully.  I know that cries of “Liberal!” and “Republican!” and so forth are inevitably heard wherever reasoned discourse begins.   I wonder when America will grow up and stop allowing their political deliberations to turn into playground shoving matches.

    I wonder when Americans will stop worshiping power because it is powerful? 

    It is illegal for the government, any government in America, to destroy anything without due process.   It is a violation of the Fifth Amendment guarantees of both due process and the right to one’s property without it being confiscated and destroyed without just compensation.

    The one duty left to us by the Founding Fathers was to question our leaders.  We don’t even ask from where the government presumes to claim the authority to do as it wishes.   We simply assume that because they are powerful they are also wise.   We do not consider how inconsistent that faith is with history, both ours in America and mankind’s generally.

    We live in a nation where the rule of law has failed.  The Supreme Court, the Executive Branch and Congress now flout laws both national and local with neither regard for their own rulings nor regard or respect for the sovereign authority of the states or the people.  Meanwhile, they presume to heap upon the citizenry thousand-page lists of instructions the violation of the least of which is met with breathless official outrage.

    What must be done to restore our dignity and rights as Americans?  

    What I fear most is there is no ready answer to that question, and that we have witnessed the end of one of mankind’s greatest achievements consumed by Americans’ belligerent gluttonous refusal to reason amongst themselves.

    P.S. In what Court of Law is it legal for the prosecution to preside over the wholesale destruction of evidence? Especially by a third party? Even with the approval of the defendant?

    • quentin says:

      Yeah, because MegaUpload is the model that most cloud services use to develop out their offering…

      This is absurd. This isn’t going to reflect upon how Amazon, Dropbox, etc. do business, because they weren’t trying to skirt the law (allegedly, bullshit) in order to get money.

    • ffabian says:

      “that we have witnessed the end of one of mankind’s greatest achievements”
      Do you USians never get tired of your self-aggrandizement and exceptionalism?

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        Self-aggrandizement?  Not really, no.

        Exceptionalism?  Well, it comes and goes in cycles.  We’re in the grips of  a sort of “Manifest Destiny” type of madness at the moment, but hopefully we’ll get past it without too much bloodshed this time.

  27. Thebes42 says:

    This isn’t about “protecting copyrights”.
    This is about imposing a Summary Punishment upon those acted against Corporate interests.

    • Clevername says:

      I’m sure you have heard the rule “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence”. I propose a corollary:”Never attribute to conspiracy what can be explained more mundane forms of malice and greed” This is about furthering the career of the US attorney involved and eliminating evidence that might embarrass  him/her/the state. Just like every other time that prosecutors destroy or withhold evidence.

      Anyone who trusted Megaupload with the only copy of their files is an idiot, just like anyone who trusts their data to a single backup-less hard drive. I don’t have time to worry about idiots files. Willfull destruction of evidence by US attorneys, that is a Problem.

      • Thebes42 says:

        A “conspiracy” is merely two or more people acting together for nefarious ends.

        Your suggestion, that the staff at the Attorney’s office want to destroy evidence to further a career is AS MUCH a “conspiracy theory” as my suggestion, that the individuals in that office instead acted together to impose extralegal punishment upon Megaupload users so that they and others would not use such sites again.

        In short, while you “don’t have time to worry about idiots files”, you do have time to worry about “conspiracy theorists” that don’t believe the motivation that you are promoting.

  28. GregS says:

    If there’s one lesson we can all take away from this case is: don’t trust the cloud. Use it by all means, but whenever possible always keep copies of your files, documents, photos, etc. backed up locally (on computers or storage media you control).

  29. AnthonyI says:

    Which is another reason why the cloud is not the best way to go. 

  30. Sirkowski says:

    And nothing of value was lost.

  31. William Hurley says:

    Obama’s DoJ: ensuring that there’s acid rain in every Cloud.

  32. loroferoz says:

    Note that denying legitimate Megaupload users access and opportunity for retrieval is simply theft. 
    Of the real-deal kind, where you are denied use of things you have paid for that are your property.  Stealing. 
    Unjustified, unwarranted, violent, sudden seizure without compensation or due process.Then, destruction of stolen property through sheer negligence. That should be actionable.Much worse than the arguable filesharing kind thereof.Governments are willing to commit real theft and vandalism to stop the nebulous variety.  Sad to say the least.

  33. IgnorantMass says:

    This really sucks for all the people who used MegaUpload for the right thing, storing/sharing legal files. I really feel bad for anyone who used this website to store all of their data :( I really hope too much more doesn’t come out of this, such as wiping other personal backup data such as Carbonite. If you’re looking to build your own website, look to http://www.websites101.webs.com to learn how to build a website from the ground up. New content every week, come join the fun and earn your place on the internet.

  34. Bob says:

    i hope they AT LEAST give us 24 hours access…i’m mad cause i had alot of stuff of on MU that i didn’t keep a 2nd backup off (-)smacks head into wall(-)
     
    p.s. if anyone is looking for a similar free host:
    http://www.peeje.com/upload
     
    imo it’s better than megaupload since peeje gives u DIRECT-download links 

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