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back to article Millions face Megaupload data deletion by Thursday

US prosecutors have warned that Megaupload users could start losing the data they uploaded to the company as early as this Thursday. The US attorney's office had been granted search warrants for Megaupload data hosted on servers based in Virginia at Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications. In executing the warrants, …

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Devil

I'm gonna launch a satellite

Containing my own server - that'll teach them (until they blow it up).

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Anonymous Coward

Indeed

One important lesson that I've learnt from this is to ensure I don't have any servers in the US. This is a bit of a bitch since their bandwidth is cheap, but it's just too dangerous.

Use a .uk domain since they maintain their own root servers (correct me If I'm wrong please!) and servers outside of the US.

It probably wont stop the yanks but it should slow them down!

AC to avoid deportation from America for calling them yanks.

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Yag
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Mmmh...

"prosecutors copied selected data from the servers" + deletion of original data = Tampering all the way...

Or, at least, the "selected data" will only include illegal data while all the legitimate one will be deleted.

Nice one...

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*Allegedly* illegal. They need to prove it's actually illegal before they do anything else.

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THEY BRING A BUSINESS TO ITS KNEES...

without any convictions. Now that IS justice.

It's a back door way of censorship. Freeze the funds, take years to go through the 'evidence', until finally it gets to court.

"The prosecution withdraws Your Honour, its a lack of evidence and its really just a civil matter actually."

"What about my business, you have ruined me!"

"we had sufficient evidence to look into it" said with smug smile.

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Introversion won that argument and lawsuit after the FBI called Shadowrun books a "handbook for computer crime".

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Correct me if I'm wrong but

"Now that the lawyers have served the warrants and taken the data they wanted, they can't continue to search the servers and have handed control of them back to Carpathia and Cogent, they said in a letter to the court filed on Friday."

Doesn't that mean the actual act of deleting the hosted content is in the hands of Carpathia and Cogent? The FBI has no obligation to stop the erasure since the warrants have been served... and if you seriously only have copies of your most precious memories hosted on a site with flash-based adverts galore and an all-you-can-execute malware buffet.... no. Just no.

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WTF?

And people wonder why nobody trust them

So, the prosecutors look over the servers, take what they want, and then allow everything to be deleted. This could, of course, include evidence the defence might find useful, but the prosecution certainly would not. This alone should render the court case null and void if it goes ahead. Effectively, the prosecution have allowed the destruction of evidence. Can't really see why they didn't grab the servers anyway. Seems most odd. But then, everything in this case is.

The prosecutors seem to be doing everything in their power to bias this court case, but as they are from the USA, they'll probably get away with it. Once extradited, I expect waterboarding of the suspects to begin immediately. After all, the above shows the courts have no interest in allowing the defendants to defend themselves. Talk about a kangaroo court and summary justice.

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@Mad Mike: Link Please!

Could you please give me a link to the article you are commenting on? Because, judging by what you have written in your comment, it could not possibly be the article at the top of this comment thread.

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totally agree

This whole case is a mess, the reason for bringing it has nothing to do with justice or fairness. Naked aggression against the rest of the world.

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FAIL

It's quite simple really. By deciding what will be kept and what will be deleted, they are effectively preventing a fair trial. The prosecution is hardly likely to keep anything the defence could use!! If the website is the evidence (as in this case), the whole website, including content, must be kept for both the prosecution and defence to use. Allowing the prosecution to pick and choose what they want and then ensuring everything is deleted, the defence is hardly being given a fair chance.

Mind you, the USA hardly want a fair trial. The media companies, through their intermediates have paid for the White House and the various departments of government to hang, draw and quarter some people to try and stop the pirating. They hardly want a small matter of evidence or a fair trial to stand in the way.

This case is just like the way America runs any war. If you have a few terrorists in a building amongst a load of civilians, they simply carpet bomb the lot. That's exactly what's happening here. You've got some pirates alongside innocents and they're carpet bombing the lot. For those Americans listening........it didn't work in Vietnam, it hasn't worked in Iraq, it isn't working in Afghanistan and you're still the number 1 terrorist target in the world. Have you got the message yet?

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Anonymous Coward

Why they didn't grab the servers?

Maybe the servers only have a system disk and the back end data is stored on an enterprise disk array?

If they have imaged the system disks and just left the rest of the data, that would give prosecution and defence the same logs etc. If, however, they've deleted innocent.log and kept guilty.log that wouldn't be so good. I tend to think that the people who are doing the IT forensic work probably know what they're doing. They tend to be 3rd party companies who wouldn't want to have bad press against their name by ballsing up such a prominent case by something so simple as allowing a mis-tiral by not collecting the correct data. Also bear in mind that the defence will have their IT forensics people who I've no doubt will flag up problems such as missing data if there are any.

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FAIL

Re: Why they didn't grab the servers?

I read the quotes as meaning they've taken a sampler of the data that USERS were STORING. I mean that, after all, is what they're basing this whole case on.

Logs would be hardly relevant to such a case - a filename does not have to match it's content. For example, many photos posted on the web are called "IMG_<random number>.jpg" but that are not photos of numbers. And Youtube is filled with videos with amazing and unbelievable titles which all turn out to be Rick Astley promising to not give us up.

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@Tim Bates

Yes, but that's the issue. If they take a sample, they're making the decision on what is a valid sample. For a trial to be fair, it has to be seen as above board and for the prosecution to make this decision instantly biases the case. The prosecution are not to know what the defence want and therefore can't make this decision.

Whilst I don't defend the actions of anyone who pirates or helps pirate material, this all smacks of pirate justice. The sort when someone in an eyepatch makes you walk the plank simply because he says you're guilty. Maybe you are and maybe your not, but there doesn't seem to be any effort here to give these people a fair trial.

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@Mad Mike: Umm, no!

The Prosecutors are not deciding anything, and in fact are following the law. They were issued search warrants for particular information. They seized the servers and used forensic programs to make copies of the data covered under the warrants. They are not legally permitted to keep data beyond what was specified in the warrants.

The servers have now been returned to their owners, as is also required by law. What happens to the servers and the data on those servers is now entirely up to the company that owns the servers.

Furthermore, they are required to provide any exculpatory data that is covered by those warrants to the defense attorneys. If they don't provide said data, they lose their case, which exactly what happened when over-zealous prosecutors failed to provide such exculpatory evidence to Senator Ted Sevens defense attorneys for his trial.

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@Tom13

I think you'll find your wrong. They may be following the law, but I think you misunderstand warrants. A warrant details the MAXIMUM you MAY do. e.g. the data you MAY copy. I've capitalised the words deliberately as that's what your missing. You don't have to do the maximum. That is your choice, hence the may. Therefore, when they are selectively copying the data it does not necessarily mean ALL the data covered by the warrant. They may be doing this, but equally, they may only be copying selective data covered by the warrant. e.g. not ALL. If they are being selective, who says they're not copying data useful to the defence?

Yes, the prosecution must give all exculpatory evidence to the defence, but they are not required to search for it. Therefore, there could be evidence for the defence covered by the warrants, but they are not obliged to search for it, not obliged to copy it and therefore not obliged to give it to the defence. You can look in various US legal texts for this, but Wikipedia has a pretty good writeup on the rules of exculpatory evidence.

So, all in all, if they don't copy everything and data is lost, there can be no fair trial as the defence cannot access all data it wishes to.

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Linux

Waste of time....

This is a waste of time and ONLY serves the lawyers and the media companies. Next they'll come knocking at your door for using your DVR or all the VHS tapes you made taping shows or movies broadcast over the air waives. The reality is...if your not going to buy a movie...then your not going to buy it. These downloads of pirated movies CANNOT be seen as lost income. The quality is typically poor and any movie enthusiast want's the best quality possible.

The prices are still so high...I only buy used DVD's when I buy.

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Somethings are worth paying for

others aren't. I bought the 10th anniversary Red Dwarf boxset because I considered it worth the money.

OTOH there's also plenty that I wouldn't buy. You're certainly going to get me to struggle if you ask me to name a film in the last few months I'd even consider buying at full price. Especially as I (rather naively) forked over £4 to rent the heap of shite that was 'bad bosses' (or was it horrible bosses?).

Most films now I'll wait until they come on TV, if they are any good I may then look at buying (by which time they are cheaper). I certainly won't pay full price for a DVD without at least speaking to as many people who've seen it as I can. £20 is a lot to pay for something that may well become a shiny mat for my coffee mug

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Re: Waste of time.

You do realise that because you are buying used DVDs, the film studios are still not seeing any money from you? At least not for DVDs. I have no idea how often you go to the cinema, if at all. They only see money from the people who pay those prices that "are still so high".

As for your assertion that cannot be seen as lost income is actually inpossible to prove either way, because neither of us has access to a large enough sample set of downloaders to check.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Waste of time

You seem to be implying that no-one should buy anything second hand as the manufacturers lose out on a sale. So we all need to buy new, not second hand cars because Ford loses out. Or we should not use a taxi because Honda does not get a cut from the fare.

If the 'new' cost was low enough people would have no incentive to buy second hand, so the manufacturer would be quids in. However, it only seems to be in the 'entertainment' business that the companies want to take a cut from every single transaction that involves their product. In the physical world this does not happen with cars, houses, clothes, bikes, etc, etc.

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Well, it does give money to someone who has bought DVDs in the past, and may be using that money to buy more DVDs.

Also, by purchasing it, you're increasing demand on the used market, raising its prices, which means that the new market can charge more as well.

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exactly

And as long as this type of thing is coming from Hollywood I won't buy anything they are peddling. They can maintain this anti-public campaign without my money (the last new DVD I bought was Office Space). I used to buy VHS tapes (even at the ridiculous prices they were in the 80s) but since DVDs came out at >30$ per movie I have boycotted anything Hollywood and will continue to spit of the greedy sob's. Whether it's ruining TV with reality television or deleting millions of legitimate customer's data so they can punish the "pirates" the entire industry has it completely wrong. Imagine if we had a room full of people and KNEW 80% of them were doing something illegal... then scooped up the entire lot of them and tossed them in jail... the MPAA/RIAA would be totally ok with that (judging by the actions they have been engaging in over the last few years). And I guess so is the law enforcement arm of the government at this point.

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing wrong with 2nd hand

I buy them occasionally but it doesn't mean that is all I buy so the studios are still getting money. My price point for a new dvd is £4-7 depending on how good the film is. They usually drop to this price within a few months of first release and I will happily wait until then. I never pay the full 1st release price, does this mean that the studios are losing money because I wait until the price is realistic? How about getting the studios to not be such greedy bastards and release them at a fair price in the first place?

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Some people have to buy new, or there wouldn't be much used stuff to buy.

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@AC

>>"I never pay the full 1st release price, does this mean that the studios are losing money because I wait until the price is realistic? How about getting the studios to not be such greedy bastards and release them at a fair price in the first place?"

If there was a flat price from the start, and the same number of discs sold overall, wouldn't the flat price be higher than what you currently pay?

If the studio makes more money out of the people who just can't wait, that means they need to make less out of you to make the same amount overall.

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Vic
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> the film studios are still not seeing any money from you

A plan with no drawbacks...

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Oooh goodie, time to countersue

Destruction of evidence

Copyright violations (if they have siezed anyone's indie songs/books who isn't working with the prosecutions)

Violation of data protection act (got to be some personal information stored that they are currently holding without permission)

Perverting the course of justice (anyone storing legal documents on megaupload)

Deleting the contents of a secure data provider without the consent of the data holders sounds highly illegal.

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"anyone storing legal documents on megaupload"

I strongly suspect you won't find any. Or at least none that aren't leaks, any Lawyer who used something like Megaupload to store their data should probably be disbarred!

What is of course possible, is that cases in other jurisdictions could be fatally prejudiced. If I was suing you for (I dunno,) defamation, then it'd be nice to be able to provide the file as well as evidence that it was there. If it got deleted because of the Yanks, that'd be pretty fatal to my (ill thought out) case.

It wouldn't however be classed as perverting the course of justice AFAIK

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Anonymous Coward

I think you'll find...

..that a warrant from a court kind of overides pretty much every single one of your counter sue arguments.

Cloning a drive is STANDARD practice, in fact if you use the originals, then the case will collapse because as soon as they open a file, it's classed as tampering with evidence.

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Legitimacy can be painted over but not gotten rid of. Megaupload was a pretty legitimate service with legitimate files(Minecraft mods come to mind in my personal experiences). You can upload copyrighted content to Dropbox or 4shared or even host on SkyDrive. If the popularity or perceived popularity of uploading content that would be deemed illegal is large enough, it can make any service look illegitimate.

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>>"Legitimacy can be painted over but not gotten rid of. Megaupload was a pretty legitimate service with legitimate files"

It was at least a partially legitimate service with some legtimate files.

It'd be interesting to have some unbiased third party look at the range of content and the frequency of download (if available) to give some statistics on just what the balance was.

Though who'd want to pay someone to do that immense job, I'm not sure.

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You forget the Napster case

If the prosecution can provide that the business model depended on infringement of copyrights, the case will proceed. Yes, criminal law is different than civil law, but in this case the concept will translate. I'm not saying this good, I am saying it is what is. Furthermore, since it is what is, and since this was a foreseeable outcome, MegaUpload should have had insurance to cover payments to keep the service running in the event their accounts were frozen, or at least had a clause in their contracts that the data would be preserved until such time as the case was decided. This is part of their fiduciary responsibility and it will therefore fall upon them if user data is lost. You can't blame the scorpion for stinging the frog when they are halfway across the stream.

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Coffee/keyboard

So the US Gov was just given carte blanche on a foreign file server because of "suspicion". They were able to copy personal documents, photos and other things from hundreds of thousands of people who have potentially nothing to do with copyright violations. The Feds can then take those files back to the USA, go through all of them at their leisure and store them indefinitely as "evidence".

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Anonymous Coward

Article seems to indicate that the data is held on servers in Virginia ... in which case the US authorities have obvious jurisdiction.

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Mushroom

Meanwhile, over at the Department of Unfortunate Coincidences...

The link at the bottom of this article says :"Create, deploy and manage web apps in the cloud with Windows Azure - 3 Month free trial".

The trial will probably take at least that long.

This would seem to be a good case for avoiding Azure, and all other cloud services with servers based in the US or countries run by its lickspittles.

"Rothken said the company was working with prosecutors to try to ensure the data wasn't erased."

Oh goody. If I had important stuff stored on Megaupload's system I'd feel so glad that they were going to TRY to ensure the data wasn't erased. How kind and thoughtful of them.

"the US prosecutors reckon they have a case based on the fact that some of its leased servers were in Virginia."

Allow me an ignorant animal-skin-wearing foreigner's perspective for a moment:

Let us assume that I'm the IT Director for a successful and rapidly-growing business. We're generating tens of gigabytes of data a day. Data that is crucial to our business - it might be sales data, customer intelligence, financial data, picture or document archives, or whatever.

One day, along comes a sales droid offering me the benefits of the cloud. Cut down your expensive data centre space, stop wasting money on SAN storage, sack a few PFYs, online 24/7 data access, seamless integration, resilient distributed storage around the globe, global load balancing, service level agreements, cut total cost of ownrship, reduce headcount and decrease resource costs, integrated outsourced right-shored value proposition, blah-de-blah-de-blah.

If I were an IT Director, I'd be seduced by the meaningless babble and would sign on the line, possibly even without needing the alcofluence of incohol. But I'm not, thankfully.

Just because some snivelling little lawyer//MPAA nobody/patent troll in the US believes that cloud company has some boxes that MIGHT contain some pirated Hollywood crap, a judge in another jurisdiction pulls the plug and shows that clouds really are made of vapour. Sod your business, we're gonna bust a cap in those goddam pirates' asses, boy.

And I'm going to sign up for that, am I?

Like fuck I am.

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Anonymous Coward

Have to agree with you

But the issue is one of countries bending over and taking it from the US.

You wont see big US companies like Google, Apple, MS etc facing this action as it would directly impact US jobs and the US economy.

Google can link to torrents, Youtube can host to copyrighted material, iCloud can be packed with pirated material, drop box etc etc etc but as they are US companies they will not be hit in the same way.

The think to check with your provider is not the SLA and the uptime but which senators they contribute to.

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"Google can link to torrents, Youtube can host to copyrighted material..."

Unsurprisingly your examples show your lack of understanding: Google/Youtube are involved in many lawsuits for copyright infringement with their liability potentially in the hundreds of millions of dollars - they themselves have budgeted at least two hundred millions dollars to cover their potential liabilities arising from Youtube alone, and that sum could easily prove to be wholly inadequate.

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"lickspittles"

Such a lovely word.

"This would seem to be a good case for avoiding Azure, and all other cloud services with servers based in the US or countries run by its lickspittles."

Could prove difficult, since it seems that most countries with the infrastructure to support such services are either dodgy or behave like US lickspittles. Any suggestions?

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In on sense

I'm actually pleased about this fracas with Megaupload. It gave me a lot of very good ammo to convince the board of my company that moving our data storage to the cloud is a Really Bad Idea™. It let me paint a doomsday scenario that cleanly convinced the majority of the board that my precious servers here should stay. Thanks to this, my job is now secured against any cloud-pushing droid that oozes through our front door.

If you're in IT, and you value your job, you also should be working overtime to convince your superiors that moving to the "cloud" is a disaster waiting to happen. The bottom line to use is:

"Why the hell should we give control of our data to someone else who can lose it or tamper with it at any time, like the Megaupload case? If someone else uses the same cloud to infringe copyright or commit other crimes, we're screwed!"

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Megaphone

The short answer...

... which Steven Roper's beaten me to is don't use the cloud. Nick the cloud sales droid's laptop and phone, fill him to overflowing with supermarket own-brand whisky and dump him on a train to Inverness with his ticket stapled to his jacket.

If you absolutely must use the flipping cloud - perhaps because some senior management eejit's just committed you to a five-year contract - or you already do use it, the thing to to is make sure you've got copies of your data somewhere you can keep an eye on it. It might be on a few thousand tapes or discs, and will take a while to recover, but you'll at least have the peace of mind to know that the next Judge Dreddful from Deliverance County who decides to bring down a cloud provider for a month won't take your business down with it.

Then of course, the lesson should be driven home by taking as long as you can to restore the data, accompanied by a heavily-inflated bill for hardware and overtime.

Megaphone, for shouting 'don't use the cloud! Don't use the cloud!"

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@Mike Smith

I don't disagree with your statement, but the growth area in cloud is not around storage so much as function. Moving your apps etc. into the cloud. If you do that, you're not going to be able to keep copies of constantly changing data. So, if you use the cloud for email services, how do you keep a copy someone else that's 'safe'?

All in all, the answer is simply, don't use the cloud.

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Stop

Well yes, but that's civil suits. Last I heard Google's board weren't in custody awaiting a criminal trial? And two hundred million, while a very tidy sum, is surely a drop in the ocean compared to Google's net worth. And providing for future damages is light years away from having the entire company's assets frozen.

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Then your board is even more incompetent than you are.

When you pay to host the service on the cloud, there are no adverts from which the vendor is deriving money. Moreover, your data is segregated from that of other vendors. So when the feds come knocking at the cloud vendor's door, the cloud vendor asks which clients are covered by the warrants. If you aren't covered by the warrants, your data aren't copied. Moreover, because the cloud vendor is cooperating with the police, and have in place specific methods for providing police with clones of the data, their servers are never taken offline in the first place.

I still think trusting all your data to the cloud alone is stupid and incompetent, but not because the RIAA, MPAA, or other ip trolling rejects are going to be able to take down the cloud. In fact, in this case, it is evident that the company selling the cloud service TO MegaUpload is largely unaffected by the prosecution of the case.

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Mushroom

You're overlooking one crucial thing

"Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken told the Associated Press that at least 50 million users had stored data with the company, including family photos and personal documents. Users weren't able to access the data throughout this month while the prosecutors held the servers."

Unless I've misread that, it appears that a lot of innocent people were caught in the trawl. I don't think there are many companies who would happily accept losing access to their data for a month while the prosecutors went rifling through the servers.

You may be right regarding the warrants - I certainly hope you are - but the end result for Joe Customer in this case has been a month's outage. And ti's the end result that's important; if I'm paying someone for a cloud service, I couldn't care less who their sub-sub-sub-contracted value-added partners are. What I would see, as a paying customer, is a loss of service that I'd no control over. The American prosecutors wouldn't give a monkey's about my business, unless it was a big US corporation with sufficient financial clout to buy some influence in the government.

Mushroom cloud, because sooner or later, some sizeable companies are going to see that happen to their cloudy solutions just because some vindictive American IP troll's going after a few illicit MP3s.

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Hang on....

So if these storage companies were the ones actually storing the copyrighted material... why aren't THEY being taken to court?

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Because they weren't the ones flacking ads

begging user to infringe on copyrighted material.

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Idiots

If the data on the servers gets wiped then their whole case goes out the window. A criminal case requires a whole different level of evidence from the normal civil case. The words are "beyond a reasonable doubt" - you can't figure any way for him to be innocent. In a civil case, it's more of he probably did it.

If I were on the jury and heard that the government froze the money required to preserve evidence that might have proven the defendant innocent then I'd return an immediate not guilty verdict. You can't put a man in jail (or I can't anyway) unless you're sure they're guilty.

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Beyond doubt?

Not really, more like the government said these were nasty terrorist funding hollywood bashing foreign nasties so hang them high and yee haa burn the bastards....

No real proof of anything will be provided or needed and US 'justice' will screw the defendants.

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Black Helicopters

@ Edward Clarke: You can beat the rap...

...but you can't beat the ride.

"If the data on the servers gets wiped then their whole case goes out the window. A criminal case requires a whole different level of evidence from the normal civil case."

I don't think they need to care much about a criminal case. They've got him in custody, they can probably keep him in jail for a few years during extradition hearings and pre-trial, they've destroyed his business, they're [possibly, subject to yada yada] three days away from destroying all the data on the servers. That sends a pretty powerful message even without a criminal conviction at the end of it: just look at what the other filesharing sites have been doing in the last few days.

"You can't put a man in jail (or I can't anyway) unless you're sure they're guilty."

Except, he's in jail.

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