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MegaUpload users look to sue FBI over lost content

by Alistair Lowe on 27 January 2012, 11:21

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When a service forms four per cent of all the traffic on the internet, suddenly closing it down without a moment's notice is going to cause some serious backlash, as the interruption reaches out to hundreds of millions of people.

Pirate Parties worldwide have now begun to generate lists of those affected by the closure of MegaUpload, with plans to file an official complaint against the US authorities, "The widespread damage caused by the sudden closure of MegaUpload is unjustified and completely disproportionate to the aim intended ... This initiative is a starting point for legitimate internet users to help defend themselves from the legal abuses promoted by those wishing to aggressively lock away cultural materials for their financial gain." they announced.

Whilst the Pirate Parties are those first to take action, TorrentFreak reports that legal experts and citizen rights groups have also taken an interest in the closure. Those that wish to join the complaint can do so at megaupload.pirata.cat.

So far, the FBI response to the matter has been that the T&Cs of the MegaUpload contract state that users must backup their data and that it was not guaranteed, with the accusations of which the FBI acted upon suggesting that the service was used almost exclusively for the violation of copyrighted media in a 'Mega Conspiracy'.

However, we do seriously doubt claims and figures coming from the US. Much of MegaUpload's success can be attributed to its critical mass, where by one joins the service as there is a higher chance of others using the service, along with a higher chance that X content may be found on the service; this logic rings true for legal and illegal users alike and, with a customer base of over 150 million, the law of averages would predict several million legitimate users in the worst case scenario, with this figure likely an understatement.

With no way for the FBI to gauge the value of legitimate business being conducted over MegUpload's systems, we would have to agree that actions were indeed irresponsible, despite T&Cs that don't protect user data, this does not give an entity the right to maliciously cause the loss of such data, nor does it enable users to make informed decisions on how to manage their risk. What's worse is that from a business perspective, if data and continuity of service were not a guarantee, one logical approach would be to use other file-locker services, however the extreme actions of the FBI have caused serious disruption in many such alternatives as they look to either close all together, discontinue offerings to certain regions or undergo sudden and disruptive overhauls, as, despite whether a company CEO believes that they are running a legitimate business or not, perhaps a business with an unpredictable risk of jail is just not worth running.

Making my stance clear, I understand that much illegal activity was conducted on the MegaUpload site and that action needed to be taken, however when I consider that students may have lost coursework, with firm communications potentially disrupted and personal material lost, I do feel that the FBI's approach to dealing with the matter was overplayed.

Again, we're left wondering what the future will hold for other file-locker sites.



HEXUS Forums :: 48 Comments

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Making our stance clear, we understand that much illegal activity was conducted on the MegaUpload site and that action needed to be taken, however when we consider that students may have lost coursework, with firm communications potentially disrupted and personal material lost, we do feel that the FBI's approach to dealing with the matter was irresponsible and overplayed.
Really? Seriously?

A few students "may" have lost coursework, assuming of course that their primary version was killed after Mega was taken down and before they had a chance to back up anywhere else, and assuming they were idiot enough to have their only backup in a location they had no control over, then the FBI are somehow at fault in taking down an operation so overtly dominated by criminal activity?

Maybe those few students ought to grow some brains and keep more than one copy, such as on a DVDR or a pendrive, too, rather than being naive enough to rely on a single online backup. After all, a pendrive, or even a plug-in USB hard drive aren't exactly bank-bustingly expensive, and a simply sync utility will keep such backups up-to-date.

If their "work" is important enough to matter, they need to take responsibility for keeping it safe, and if it isn't, what the bleep are the suing the FBI for?
im prety much agreed with Saracen however not having megaupload peeved me off as there were countless XDA roms on there lol, felt lost for almost a week however they're now elsewhere so im not fussed.

Maybe it could have been handled differently but if it was then it probably wouldnt have worked, megaupload regardless had a significant amount of pirated content. People say that its impossible to manage the pirate content and to stop it getting on these websites, bull i say! Im not being funny but these sites are raking in a ton of money and to just hire ONE person to work normal hours to simply type on google... Film X, Game X, TV show X, would find them effortlessly and remove them instantly.

Yes its impossible to get it 100% clean but to get it to a reasonable level doesn't take much at all, so yes they're totally right to take the prats down, same as the piratebay owners etc. The only issue i have is that there were like 1% legitimate users and hopefully somethings been worked out (or have correctly claimed) for their refund etc, apart from that i have no sympathy for the owners as they're criminals in their own lives let alone organising a pirating sharing site
I doubt anything will come from this, theres bound to be a clause in some sort of "Anti-terrorist" law in the US that will cover the FBI's arse and no doubt the MPAA or whoever will throw money into the whole tihng to make sure that nothing is paid out to users.
Saracen
Really? Seriously?

A few students "may" have lost coursework, assuming of course that their primary version was killed after Mega was taken down and before they had a chance to back up anywhere else, and assuming they were idiot enough to have their only backup in a location they had no control over, then the FBI are somehow at fault in taking down an operation so overtly dominated by criminal activity?

Maybe those few students ought to grow some brains and keep more than one copy, such as on a DVDR or a pendrive, too, rather than being naive enough to rely on a single online backup. After all, a pendrive, or even a plug-in USB hard drive aren't exactly bank-bustingly expensive, and a simply sync utility will keep such backups up-to-date.

If their "work" is important enough to matter, they need to take responsibility for keeping it safe, and if it isn't, what the bleep are the suing the FBI for?


I say may, I'm just being subtle and citing examples, again on average the chance that some did is almost certain. The main issue is that perhaps some did take extra measures and may have used a dual service, but many services have been unexpectedly (yet expectedly) affected by what has gone on. It's not just a fact of file loss, unavailability or delay can have serious repercussions as well. However this is just an example, which I cited because we often place little value on students and what impact our actions can have on their futures, we could say short sightedness is their fault, but then they are students (that means still learning) and it doesn't change the fact that their data was taken by a group of people who should know better and are well aware of the harm they may be causing.

To cite an extreme example, I wouldn't blame my neighbours death on them failing to install a blast wall because they chose to move into a neighbourhood with unsightly characters where the authorities felt a bomb would be the most effective means of dealing with the matter. The responsible action would have been to fully scope the situation and enforce the law without impacting innocent bystanders. Extreme, yes, but the extremity shouldn't affect the morality of the matter.

What if MegaUpload did offer a guarantee of data safety? I somehow expect the result would have been the same only users would more so, not have been able to make an informed decision when it came to protecting their data. I'm sorry but I don't think even one person should be 'robbed' for the sake of protecting another from the potential of reduced profit, which when you take away property and services, virtual or not, is the effect of such actions. The FBI could have seized control, closed off hotlinks or new account registrations and allowed for data recovery or private downloads, with a view to new management in the future by selling the firm off were the owners convicted or to reimburse users where possible. They haven't even announced their plans to allow for informed user actions post closure. I don't even feel comfortable commenting too much on the level of piracy until a court hearing, as at this point the only figures up for offer have been formed by the prosecution.