As a direct result of the Megaupload raid many legitimate users of the site lost access to their personal files. To find out why the Government put the interests of copyright holders before those of the public, one user convinced the court to unseal the seizure warrant matarials. Surprisingly, however, there is absolutely no mention of Megaupload’s legal use in the released records. In a response Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom says the whole case is a tragic copyright comedy.
In the wake of the January shutdown of Megaupload, many of the site’s legitimate users complained that their personal files had been lost.
Among these users are many people in the U.S. military who used the site to share pictures and videos with family. TorrentFreak learned that least 15,634 soldiers had accounts at Megaupload, between them sharing hundreds of thousands of files.
One of the users, entrepreneur Kyle Goodwin, asked the court to return his files. As part of this request his attorneys filed a motion to unseal the Megaupload search warrants so they can see on what grounds the data was taken.
This week Judge O’Grady granted the request and ordered the release of the warrants and their applications, albeit redacted. This means we can now see how the U.S. put forward its request to seize the domains and servers.
The search warrant applications don’t offer any new facts and mostly recite what has already been written in the indictment. The Government describes Megaupload as nothing more than a place where copyright infringing files are stored, and this is what the judge signed off on.
However, what is striking is that none of the released records even mention the legitimate use of the site. In other words, the rights of Megaupload’s legitimate users were never taken into consideration.
Speaking with TorrentFreak, Kim Dotcom shares our surprise, noting that nearly half of all files stored on Megaupload were never downloaded.
“The legitimate use was completely ignored in the seizure warrant applications. Almost 50% of files stored on Megaupload didn’t have a single download. There was massive non-infringing use by those who just wanted to store data in the cloud,” Dotcom says.
The lack of discussion about the many legitimate users of Megaupload is concerning.
Several of the allegations made against Megaupload could easily apply to other hosting and video services. The FBI, for example, explains in detail how their undercover agent was able to upload, view and download copyrighted videos, something that’s also quite common on YouTube.