On Friday, we wrote about the unsealed
seizure warrants against Megaupload, and noted that they showed how Megaupload had assisted
in a criminal investigation, in which they were told not to interfere with the files, but then those very files were used as evidence against Megaupload itself. It's now come out that this was part of the case against NinjaVideo
, which we wrote about
a few times. Apparently, NinjaVideo used Megaupload to store some of its files, and the DOJ sent a warrant to Megaupload, which they complied with:
“Megaupload complied with the warrant and cooperated with the government’s request,” Rothken said. He said Megaupload had gotten “a number of such warrant and subpoena type requests a year and still have an expectation that as classic ‘online service providers’ they are immune from liability for the acts of users who are the target of such warrants and subpoenas.”
But, as the unsealed warrants show, the DOJ later used those same files as evidence that Megaupload "knew" there were infringing files on its servers, leaving out the bit about how they had requested Megaupload not delete them. That seems like yet more fairly egregious behavior by the DOJ in a case that's chock full of it. Once again, I'm left wondering how the DOJ could do so many questionable things in their pursuit of Dotcom. It really looks like they bought Hollywood's mythic story about Dotcom hook, line and sinker, and believed that once they took him down, the case would simply fall into place.
Rothken calls the government’s argument “outrageous.” Given the NinjaVideo search warrant, and the government’s specific request for secrecy and to retain the files, Megaupload might have been accused of evidence-spoliation if it had taken the movies down, says Rothken.
“If anything, such a cooperation request by the government bolstered Megaupload’s view that as a cloud storage intermediary it was operating lawfully even if some users may have been misbehaving,” Rothken said.
Back when the Megaupload indictment and arrests first came down, I had a conversation with a couple of lawyers who insisted that, given the claims in the indictment, the DOJ must have had really strong evidence against Megaupload. But pretty much every discovery since then has suggested that they only had strong evidence in their minds...