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Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Seeking Information of Legal Users of Megaupload 165

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the caught-in-the-crossfire dept.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, with the assistance of Carpathia Hosting, has issued a call for information on users who lost legitimate data as part of the Megaupload takedown. No promises are made at this point, but Carpathia at least notes: "We have no immediate plans to reprovision some or all of the Megaupload servers. This means that there is no imminent data loss for Megaupload customers. If this situation changes, we will post a notice at least 7 days in advance of reprovisioning any Megaupload servers."
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EFF Seeking Information of Legal Users of Megaupload

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:26PM (#38893005)

    MegaUpload's shutdown didn't need SOPA to pass... it's just a simple DMCA escalation that says if you ignore DMCA Takedown letters, your server farm will be ordered to down your server. The DMCA is still missing the provision for a penalty for an invalid takedown request but that's what we should be telling Congress to work on.

  • Re:I'm confused... (Score:3, Informative)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:28PM (#38893043)

    MegaUpload's problem is that they never implemented a DMCA Takedown system like YouTube has had for years now. If they do that, they can likely have their servers back quickly... if they don't and nobody steps in to pay the bills then the data is already lost.

  • by Anrego (830717) * on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:32PM (#38893109)

    The big problem here is that piracy probably _was_ a huge part of megaupload.

    Not saying their wern't lots of legitimate users, but lets not ignore reality here.

  • Re:I'm confused... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:39PM (#38893193)

    MegaUpload's assets have been frozen, so they can't pay their hosting bills. Carpathia Hosting has several terabytes of web-facing storage that are no longer earning revenue. Eventually, they will sell that capacity to someone else, and the data will be overwritten. This has to be one of the most misunderstood, misquoted, and misdirected stories of the year so far.

    There's no FDIC for data, and the bank just closed. Caveat Emptor.

  • by The Moof (859402) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:50PM (#38893397)

    The DMCA is still missing the provision for a penalty for an invalid takedown request

    No, it's there. I'm not aware of it ever actually being enforced, but it's definitely there.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:17PM (#38893777) Homepage

    I reviewed an academic paper (which unfortunately the others on the PC didn't like, so it wasn't accepted) which examined the economic model of Megaupload, related services, third-party links to Megaupload, and the popular files, especially the "Uploader Rewards", and concluded that the company's business model really was about "Profit from Piracy".

    Combined with the email trail that the feds apparently got (eg, emails concerning scraping of Youtube for the creation of MegaVideo, emails about reward payments including clear descriptions of the types of uploads), and the RICO indictments etc are not a surprise. (the indictment [scribd.com])

    For example, if its true that their takedown is by URL, but they duplicate based on hash (so one can have multiple URLs for the same file), thats clearly attempting to game the system, as any legitimate takedown system would take down all separate URLs which point to the same file. (Paragraph 23 on the indictment). Especially if this is related to the creation of a "dummy lifetime premium user" to "to prevent the loss of source files due to expiration or abuse reports" (from a Megaupload email).

    Also, at least according to the indictment, there really should be very few legitimate files lost in this: Anonymous uploads needed to be downloaded every 21 days or they were deleted, and even free named accounts required 90-day downloads, which is very different from Dropbox and other systems, where persistence, rather than popularity-of-download, is the goal.

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @03:34PM (#38894759) Journal

    For example, if its true that their takedown is by URL, but they duplicate based on hash (so one can have multiple URLs for the same file), thats clearly attempting to game the system, as any legitimate takedown system would take down all separate URLs which point to the same file. (Paragraph 23 on the indictment). Especially if this is related to the creation of a "dummy lifetime premium user" to "to prevent the loss of source files due to expiration or abuse reports" (from a Megaupload email).

    Wrong. The DMCA puts the onus on the copyright holder to provide enough information to identify the offending material, not the service provider. A legitimate takedown system would take down the URL they request be taken down, and no more.

    The reason this is crucial is that deduplication is an established technique for preventing data redundancy, and does its job without regard to who uploaded the content or how it is being used. It is not at all a given that every copy of a file uploaded by multiple people is equally infringing.

    For example, you and I both buy a copy of a movie. We each have the right to make a backup. I make my backup and upload it to a sharing site, but mark it "for my eyes only". This is still a backup. You do the same, but mark it "public" and post the URL to a bunch of pirated movie bulletin boards or whatever. This is no longer a backup. Your data and mine are, or at least should be, identical because they were ripped from the same DVD. They are deduplicated to the same underlying hash. When the copyright owner complains about that URL, your copy must come down. However, if my copy comes down as well, that would be illegal destruction of my personal property, and would subject both companies to civil (and possibly criminal) liability.

    Taken one step further, I might have a relationship with the copyright holder that allows me to redistribute a copy of that movie to my clients. I might make that URL "public" (accessible without my password), but I might not publish the URL except in the form of sending it to my clients. That is still not a copyright violation. However, it is still technically a publicly shared URL. When yours gets taken down, mine must not, or else it is tortious interference. Yet there is absolutely no difference, as far as the sharing service is concerned, between those two URLs. Both are public. Both are backed by the same tag.

    The DMCA requires that the requested URL be taken down, not every possible copy of the content in question. Any representation to the contrary is a misrepresentation of the law, and would render infeasible the standard operating procedures for large, shared server farms.

    Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that these sites aren't sleazy operators that knowingly distributed copyright-infringing material. However, their following of the DMCA to the letter to the law (and no further) should not be considered evidentiary support for such an argument.

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