When Megaupload was shut down a week ago by the Department of Justice and FBI for allegedly profiting from copyright infringement, many of the service’s users complained that they lost personal, non-infringing files. Now those users are banding together to sue the government.
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and several other Megaupload employees were named in a 72-page indictment issued last week by the Department of Justice. The indictment against Megaupload alleges it is connected to a vast criminal enterprise that has caused more than $500 million in harm to copyright owners. If convicted, the company and its executives could serve many years in prison. Next up, Dotcom will face an extradition hearing on Feb. 22.
But the immensely popular site for file-hosting didn’t just allow users to share copyrighted movie and music files — many customers of the site used it to store and send personal files, just like you can on many other file-sharing sites on the web. When the site was taken down, Megaupload fans complained bitterly that the government had taken away access to legal files used for work, as noted by TorrentFreak.
The FBI has caused incalculable damage, far in excess of the losses claimed by the content lobbies, in a fruitless attempt to prevent access to the media content hosted on Megaupload, some of which they claim to have been infringing copyright under US law. However, as much of the unlawful content will still be available via other services on the web, this action not only shows us the futility of these measures but also serves as a reminder that these files are not necessarily, nor have been shown to be, illegal in any country, including the US.
In contrast, by closing the service they have impeded the access to millions of archives of both private individuals and organisations, potentially causing huge personal, economic and image damages to a vast number of people. In addition, the Pirate Party understands they may have violated Articles 197 and 198 of the Spanish Penal Code by misappropiating personal data.
Users who have been affected by the Megaupload shutdown can sign the petition at Pirates of Catalonia’s Megaupload site.