Demand Progress Files Brief in MegaUpload Case

Demand Progress has filed a legal brief, joining the many in call to permit users who used MegaUpload legally to have their files returned.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

When MegaUpload was taken offline, many users (including myself) who had used the services for legal purposes were negatively impacted because files that were legally put on the servers were removed along with allegedly infringing files. Since then, those users who used MegaUpload legitimately have been demanding the return of their property. Unfortunately, trying to get their property back has proven difficult.

At one point, users were told they could have their data back, but when one user took authorities up on their offer, authorities practically refused and told the user to go elsewhere for any sort of recourse.

Late week, a New Zealand court ruled the warrant to seize MegaUpload assets was invalid. The court also ruled that the taking of evidence out of the country to be examined in the US was illegal. That likely made the case much more interesting because now the content that was confiscated might technically be considered stolen property unless something is done to reverse the judges decision.

Demand Progress currently has a website up called The Internet vs. Hollywood to spread awareness about the MegaUpload case and how it can mean that your files are always in jeopardy. The website is also hosting a legal brief filed by Demand Progress which is explained in a press release sent to ZeroPaid:

This week Demand Progress, joined by over 44,484 ordinary Internet users, filed a legal brief in the controversial case of United States vs. Kim Dotcom. The case, commonly known as the “Megaupload Case,” is of special interest to Internet users because the US government seized, and has refused to facilitate the return of, the legitimate property of Megaupload users who had used the service. Megaupload was billed as a place for online storage, upsetting many whose files were stolen.

“If the government can steal all our files from Megauploads because someone on the service used it wrong, how do we know they won’t steal our files on Gmail, YouTube, or Dropbox?” Asked David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress. “Internet users deserve assurance that things we store in the cloud aren’t up for grabs.”

The brief signed by 40,000 Demand Progress members challenges a recent filing by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) that urges the Court to assume the guilt of all Megaupload users and only return selected files to their owners. Demand Progress and Internet users, in contrast, are calling on the court to uphold the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” and to order the parties to facilitate return of all files to users.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia held a hearing on these issues today, June 29, 2012. Judge Liam O’Grady announced he would issue an order on the matter shortly.

Internet users are not the only people concerned with implications of Kim Dotcom’s case, Internet innovators have also raised concerns. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak recently told Business Insider that the charges against Megaupload are a “threat to Internet innovation… You don’t close down the whole street because someone is speeding.”

Courts are also piling on. A New Zealand judge yesterday ruled that the search and seizure by the United States was invalid, thereby calling into question the prosecution’s entire case. Demand Progress will continue to follow the case closely.

In the legal brief, Demand Progress says that the MPAA is trying to violate the presumption of innocence. The briefing also argues that selectively returning files is impracticable and outside this court’s purview, and the the MPAA and the United States seek to achieve results congress declined to approve (in reference to SOPA and the Protect IP Act).

We’ll be keeping an eye on the MegaUpload case as it develops.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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