MPAA asks court not to return servers to Megaupload

The trade group also opposes letting Megaupload's users retrieve their data from the former file-locker site without assurances that pirated movies and TV shows won't circulate again.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom
(Credit: Reuters)

The trade group for the top Hollywood film studios has told a US federal court that it opposes any plan that would allow Megaupload to buy back its servers.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has filed an eight-page response to a motion filed by Carpathia Hosting, the company that is maintaining the 25,000 servers used by Megaupload, a cyberlocker service accused of mass copyright infringement. Carpathia said two weeks ago that the cost of maintaining the servers has surpassed US$500,000 and wants the court to either help carry some of the burden or allow it to wipe the servers clean so they may be put to work elsewhere.

The MPAA's position may mean that Megaupload may not get to retrieve its servers, something that Ira Rothken, the company's lawyer, said it needs to defend itself against. In January, the United States filed criminal copyright charges against the company, founder Kim Dotcom and other managers. Dotcom and six others are expected to fight US attempts to extradite them to this country.

The MPAA also said in its response that it opposes allowing former Megaupload users to retrieve their data from the servers if that means pirated movies may be circulated again.

Last week, Kyle Goodwin, who operates, a site that follows high school athletics in Ohio, asked the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to allow him to retrieve his videos, which he says are his lawful property and were stored at Megaupload. Goodwin is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group that advocates for technology companies and internet users. EFF has asked the court to create some kind of procedure that would allow anyone who stored lawful material on Megaupload to have a chance at recovering their possessions.

"There may unfortunately be users whose legitimate files are now caught up in the illegal activity of Megaupload," MPAA lawyers wrote in their motion. "We are sympathetic to those users, although we do not know how many there actually are as the Goodwin brief only identifies one. However, if the court is willing to consider creating a receiver membership mechanism to allow retrieval of files it is essential that the mechanism include a procedure that ensures that any materials the users download are not files that have been illegally uploaded to their accounts."

As for allowing Megaupload to re-acquire control of the company's servers, the MPAA strongly opposed any attempt to do this. Lawyers for the trade group told the court that they had been informed Megaupload's lawyers had already obtained the data they needed to make their case, according to court documents. Regardless, the MPAA said that handing over the servers to the company risked enabling Megaupload to be reformed.

"The MPAA members' principal concern is assuring that adequate steps are taken to prevent the MPAA members' content on the [Megaupload] servers ... from falling back into the hands of Megaupload or otherwise entering the stream of commerce."

Rothken, Megaupload's US-based lawyer, told CNET that when he tried to buy the servers back, he made clear that he planned to make the servers available only to lawyers and that he would block copyrighted works from making their way into the wild again. He also said he suspected the government's refusal to allow the company to access the servers was to unfairly impede the defence.

The court has scheduled a hearing on this issue for sometime later this month.


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