A small business owner who used MegaUpload's cloud-based storage system has asked a federal court to let him retrieve files that were seized as part of a criminal copyright investigation.
Kyle Goodwin, who runs a business reporting on high school sporting events in Ohio, is being represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
MegaUpload, which had more than 150 million registered users, was shut down by the FBI on January 19 because of alleged copyright infringement. The site allowed registered users to upload files, which could then be downloaded by others through a link. Goodwin had stored his video footage on MegaUpload's servers, but now has no way of accessing the files, which he needs to operate his business.
MegaUpload's hosting company has asked the court for an approved procedure for customers to retrieve their files before deletion. EFF filed a brief on Friday in support of that motion.
"The court can help make Mr. Goodwin – an innocent party here – whole again," said EFF Staff Attorney Julie Samuels. "With government seizures growing, we're likely to see more and more cases like this, where lawful customers of a cloud service lose property in a federal copyright case. We're hoping the court will set an important precedent to protect users from overzealous government agents."
The legal brief states that the court can and should establish a way for MegaUpload users to retrieve their files, claiming that innocent users like Goodwin did nothing to deserve punishment.
"The seizure of Mr. Goodwin's data is particularly troubling because it implicates his First Amendment rights in his expressive work," the brief says. "By seizing the entire MegaUpload site, the government cut off access to the speech of Mr. Goodwin and millions of other MegaUpload customers."
Seven of MegaUpload’s founders and employees have been charged with online piracy crimes. The charges include copyright infringement as well as conspiracies to commit racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering.