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Nearly 50,000 People Ask Why The Government Is Seizing Their Digital Files

from the speak-out dept

The folks at Demand Progress today filed a brief in one part of the ongoing Megaupload case: the fight over users being able to get their files back. The DOJ is trying to block this, while also wanting the evidence destroyed. The MPAA says it is okay with data being returned… if there is a 100% guarantee that no infringing works are accessed (an impossibly high standard). The Demand Progress filing points out that this whole thing flies in the face of being innocent until proven guilty, and argues that users who are non-parties to the lawsuit should have access to their files.

Related to this, Demand Progress has also put together a petition, asking people to sign on to support a user’s right to his or her own files — and against the government just magically taking files out of the cloud:

One day after the Internet staged a massive blackout to protest Congress’s Internet censorship legislation (SOPA/PIPA), the United States responded by seizing millions of ordinary user files hosted on the popular website Megaupload.com. With an aim of shutting down Megaupload and other Cloud-based hosting services (like Dropbox, YouTube or even your email provider), the government is trying to claim website operators should face decades in prison for the misdeeds of some of their users. But while they pursue trumped up criminal charges against the companies’ founders, they are shutting down dozens of websites, and leaving ordinary Internet users without any way of retrieving their files. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak called the case against Megaupload a “threat to innovation.” Wozniak likened the Megaupload site to a highway and those who shared pirated movies and songs to speeding motorists. “You don’t just shut down the whole street because somebody is speeding,” he said. Numerous laws on the books already give copyright holders plenty of avenues to stop actual infringement, but that’s not enough to satisfy Hollywood’s lawyers and lobbyists. The prosecutor in the case, Neil MacBride, previously served as the Anti-Piracy Vice President of the Business Software Alliance, where he represented the intellectual property interests of countless multinational corporations. Now Hollywood’s lobbyists, represented by the Motion Picture Association of America, want him to make it nearly impossible for ordinary Internet users to get their property back.

As I write this, the petition appears to have just short of 50,000 signatures, and the number is increasing rapidly… The Internet vs. Hollywood

Filed Under: , , , , , ,
Companies: megaupload, mpaa

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Comments on “Nearly 50,000 People Ask Why The Government Is Seizing Their Digital Files”

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G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Quite correct, though if an international petition is commissioned I can see the DOJ argument now.

Demand Progress: “We submit this petition of concerned International persons to the court.”

Court: hmm it seems over 3million humans are quite concerned with this case.

DoJ: Your honour, we class all those people as terrorists since they are trying to tell us the God Loving USofAAAAAAAA what to do. We hereby request under National Security all those names to place on a watch list and also can now show the court that this ‘evidence” must be destroyed becuase otherwise would be the USA submitting to terroristic demands. Hooah!

Court: *slightly scared and worried of the black hatted gentlemen who now appear in the gallery* “welll.. ummm. quite… the DoJ is correct. Case dismissed”

maclypse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

While this is technically true, it’s still sad. The very least they could have done is add a way to internationally support the matter – even if a court can’t take those international voices into account.

Most of us non-Americans wouldn’t even know where to BEGIN when it comes to filing legal complaints internationally, against the US government, for their actions in New Zeeland.

Nice that someone is trying to rally some support for this, but it’s a shame all non-US victims are left out in the cold.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Its nothing to do with influencing politicians, although i hope at least one has the decency to do a double take….its about other countries other then america taking note……..do you want another influential country to come out and support these things, you know america will spin this in a possitive light, how long before other countries fall in line, once they do, it’ll be embarising for them to retract it, if america does, how will they look……..i tell you ………like puppets……in the face of that, will they retract or continue in the hopes of saving face, if they keep it, will they continue enforcing it, or completly lax the issue, knowing that their citizens may have a strong reaction to it

One message, with international cooperation, its not really feasable for us to petition individually, as support will be all over the place, too many individual countries, but in this instance you have a perfect opportunity for all countries to poll in their support in one unified manner, on things we believe will actually go somewhere, if it went our way………..i reckon its a wasted opportunity that the international crowd doesnt get a say in these things, if only to express our opinion on the matter, by the numbers, hopefully, huge one *shrug*

When i say america, i mean the corrupted

Ok, that one turned onto a ramble………..again…..enjoy ………the other comments

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It has everything to do with influencing politicians.

If non-Americans really want to make a difference, instead of trying to find ways to add there voices to a petition of a US court (which will mostly ignore the will of Americans, much less non-Americans) they should focus more of putting in place government officials who won’t simply roll over the first time the Us says heel.

Of course if Americans would stop pretending that 98% of both the Republicans and Democrats in this country could care less about the people and only for the corporate interests maybe the US won’t be the world’s biggest bully.

On, and it’s not the “internet vs Holywood”, it’s the people vs. Hollywood. The internet couldn’t care a crap about what Hollywood does.

Anonymous Coward says:

It doesn’t really add up to a hill of beans. It would be interesting to see how many of the people signing up (a) actually had files on the site, and (b) actually have no other valid copies of it remaining.

Petitions are sort of the ultimate way for the minority to act like they are a big deal. With (according to Kimdotcom himself) 150 million users, 50k isn’t really a significant number of users affected, is it? It certainly wouldn’t show significant non-infringing uses for the site.

Remember, you can argue all you like – the seizures will in the end stand and that will be that.

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

Re: Re:

It doesn’t really add up to a hill of beans. It would be interesting to see how many of the people shilling on this posts’ comments (a) actually have substantiated arguments, and (b) actually have no other forums to shill.

Shilling is sort of the ultimate way for the minority to act like they are a big deal. With hundreds daily comments, half a dozen isn’t really a significant number, is it?

Remember, you can argue all you like – the common sense will prevail and that will be that.

Bahska says:

Re: Re:

Thats not really the point, the point is if you use the internet like say youtube? well they could be shutdown just like megaupload hell they have already been taken to court over this same issue.

If you use, watch, listen to anything on the internet this effects you.
Doesn’t really matter if you use megaupload or not.

Brad Hubbard (profile) says:

What I still don't get

There’s one thing that’s troubled me over all this.

OK, so suppose I operate a monthly parking lot. One day, the cops tell me that they’re pretty sure a stolen car is parked in my lot. So they lock the gates and proceed to airlift all of the cars out to a holding location while they determine if they’re stolen or not. Meanwhile, all my PAYING customers want their cars back, but I can’t give it to them. All because they think I might have known one of the cars was stolen (but they don’t know which ones).

Then you tell me the storage lot you dragged numerous, non-stolen cars to is too expensive, and so they might just blow up the cars or sell them off or whatever, but my customers who broke no laws can’t have them back, in case they MIGHT be stolen (though, it’d be too hard to check, cuz there’s all those numbers!).

Just because it’s digital doesn’t mean no laws on due process or prior restraint apply. If it did, why are we having all these arguments around “intellectual property” laws in the first place?

Rabbit80 says:

Re: What I still don't get

Its more like MU is the owner of the parking lot business, they rent the building from Carpathia and the police have locked the lot, left the cars there and are trying to identify the stolen ones from a couple of photo’s which only show a tiny portion of said lot. Meanwhile, MU can’t pay the rent, Carpathia can’t lease the building to anyone else and have to keep paying rates etc and the car owners can’t access their vehicles. Meanwhile the owner of the parking lot business (MU / K Dotcom) is based in a foreign country, has had his home illegally searched and is facing extradition charges.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What I still don't get

Yeah, his home, his family home, illegally raided by around 70 armed men dressed like para troopers and bringing with them a couple of helicopters, who forced their way into his home where they then terrorized his staff, including his entirely innocent nanny, along with his wife who was pregnant with twins at the time.

Real classy hollyweird and ICE, real classy.

Screw the excitable boys in the NZ police who went along with this crap, not even bothering to ensure the drastic actions they were taking were premised on a valid warrant.

Fancy having armed people illegally raid your home, terrorizing your pregnant wife and your unfortunate nanny. Dispicable.

Ilfar says:

Re: Re: Re: What I still don't get

We had a fellow holed up in his home, masses of ammo, and who had already shot at police and neighbours… And we didn’t get that level of police response.

The Aramoana massacre, guy went on a rampage and shot up most of a small community… And we didn’t get that level of police response.

Sickening to watch my country sink to this kind of action.

Al Bert (profile) says:

Re: Re: condensed clouds

That’s just the standard of the cynic’s burden.
What mostly bothered me was specifically the fact that the signature list looked about as legitimate as something made as a joke.

Here we’re watching an institution of criminals crushing privacy, innovation, and civil liberties. I look around and i see a disinterested or uninformed general public. I look to the names of those who recognize the threat and it appears they’re just clowning for teh lulz.

Bahska says:

Re: condensed clouds

You are wrong that petitions are useless however, if they were SOPA amd its sister bills would already have been passed in many many country’s and we wouldn’t be commenting on this post.

Petitions work if the number is big enough.
Sure 50k people sounds small but 50k people in a few hours isn’t that small.

Khaim (profile) says:

We the People

Instead of an internet petition on obviously-biased-personal-website, whose results ultimately don’t mean anything, why not start an internet petition on the official government website?Don’t mention the criminal trial at all, just ask for the personal data of law-abiding citizens to be returned to them. Make reference to a safety deposit box, or some similar analogy.

Or start petitioning the media companies to start covering this story. Doesn’t CNN have that “iReport” gimmick? Use that. But a petition only works if someone has agreed to listen to it, otherwise you’re just yelling at the sky.

Bahska says:

Re: We the People

Or there forced to listen by the shear number of people signing.

Demand Progress aren’t the only people doing petitions and other things on this and many other issues, just cause this article only tells you about one doesn’t mean there is only one.

There are many non profit organizations that lobby in courtrooms for the people in America and country’s across the world every day.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: We the People

Instead of an internet petition on obviously-biased-personal-website, whose results ultimately don’t mean anything, why not start an internet petition on the official government website?

Like this one?


The people signing the other one should look at this one too. It’s only open for a few more days.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: We the People

As much as i doubt the us government would be stupid enough to tamper with the numbers, beccause if it ever came out……..

i think i’d rather see confirmed numbers from an unbiased site first, to get a genereal estimation on the numbers we should expect going to the government site

call me a pessimist, but dont call me shirley

Anonymous Coward says:

tsk tsk Mike

the government “took” nothing, remember it isn’t “theft”, as it isn’t real, they are an infinitely copyable digital product, the government didn’t stop you from selling/posting your infinitly copyable digital product

and having “rights” to your files???? I didn’t think Mike thought you had “rights” to an infinitely copyable digital product

that was why you liked piracy and supported file sharing was culture, NOW you agree that people should have “rights” over their infinitely copyable digital product, and should not have their “rights” violated????

wow, hows your own medicine taste?? you flip faster than obama on raising our taxes

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

the government didn’t stop you from selling/posting your infinitly copyable digital product

Actually, that’s exactly what they did. They seized the only remaining copies of Goodwin’s (not Mike’s) personal data. That data was literally taken: the government taking possession of it means that Goodwin doesn’t have it anymore. If the government merely made copies of the data (e.g. for evidence), then we would be having a different discussion.

The rest is just straw man arguments and slander. Mike never once said infinitely copyable digital products aren’t “real,” nor has he ever said nobody has (or should have) rights to it.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So I’m confused, are you trying to have your cake and eat it too?

Your position seems to be that infinitely copyable files are capable of being stolen when it’s the ‘entertainment’ industry making the accusations, but they aren’t capable of being stolen if it’s a citizen making the accusation.

I swear, that ‘H’ word is just on the tip of my tongue, if only I could remember what it was…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:


I can’t see where (in this thread) Karl places any suggestion of a viewpoint that aligns with the statements you claim.

It is of course possible to steal/thieve data from an entertainment provider, if you take physical possession of the data holding media of the data you are stealing.

phlynhi (profile) says:

Abuse of Irony

I use(d) MU to easily share files (home movies and photos, mostly) with my far-flung family members. Email a link to a group and done. No need for social network accounts, fear of loss of privacy associated with such, so many advantages to MU.
Additionally, I use(d) MU for Android rooting files and themes, to share and as a kind of Dropbox account (in case messing around w/ my phone was more interesting than working while at work).
The irony of ICE/MPAA stealing my files that were on Megaupload (actually stealing, not copying) in response to alleged threat is so overwhelming to me that it creates a taste of raw spinach and old pennies in my mouth.

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