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Megaupload user content safe for two more weeks

EFF joins battle to free user data from shuttered company's servers

January 31, 2012 02:03 PM ET

Computerworld - Efforts are intensifying to retrieve data belonging to potentially millions of users of Megaupload's online storage service following the company's dramatic shuttering by U.S. law enforcement authorities earlier this month.

A lawyer for Megaupload said today that the two companies hosting the online file-sharing site's content have agreed not to destroy the data for at least another two weeks.

Meanwhile, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has begun a campaign urging "innocent users" of Megaupload's service to get in touch with EFF to explore possible legal avenues for retrieving the data.

The actions stem from a letter filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia by federal prosecutors last week. That letter noted that the U.S. had completed copying all the data it needed from Megaupload's servers and had returned custody of the servers to Cogent and Carpathia Hosting, the two companies Megaupload used to host its data. The letter added that the two companies could start deleting Megaupload data as early as Feb. 2

In response, Carpathia yesterday said it did not have any control over the data and had not informed prosecutors of any plans to destroy it. The company today created a website where it touted its support for EFF's plans to assist Megaupload users.

The site is designed to "help lawful users in the United States work with EFF to investigate their options for retrieving their legitimate, non-infringing files from Megaupload," the company noted.

Cogent did not respond to a request for comment.

Ira Rothnek, the lawyer representing Megaupload in the U.S., today said in an interview that the company would like to give legitimate users access to their data. "However, its assets -- including its money -- are frozen, so Megaupload is working with the U.S. to unfreeze some funds so they can pay Carpathia and Cogent to give consumers access to their data," he said.

Rothken said that the data on Megaupload's servers is vital from an evidentiary standpoint, too.

"The data is important for the defense of Megaupload," Rothken said. "In order to have a trial based on the merits of the case, all the data needs to be preserved. Megaupload is obviously is not interested in any adversary just picking and choosing what data best suits their case," he said., which was among the top 100 Internet sites when it was busted earlier this month by authorities, is alleged to have been used to illegally store and share movies, TV programs, music and other copyrighted content. The company claimed that its site was used by millions of people to also store legitimate data, including work-related documents, family photos and other personal information.

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