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Megaupload users face fake settlement requests, but MPAA says it's not keeping data to sue users

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The MPAA has asked Megaupload's former web host to preserve user data for a lawsuit, but insists that it is not suing individual users. Meanwhile, some Megaupload account holders have received phony settlement requests asking for money to settle copyright infringement charges.

Megaupload guillotine
Megaupload guillotine

Megaupload may be gone, but its users are just starting to feel the pressure of potential legal action for copyright infringement. The MPAA has petitioned Carpathia, which hosts 25 petabytes of files formerly from Megaupload, to keep it in hopes of using the user data and other information as part of a lawsuit against the company. In the letter, which surfaced as part of a court filing by Carpathia, the MPAA states that it wants the data because "the Studios have civil claims against the operators of Megaupload, and potentially also against those who have knowingly or materially contributed to the infringement occurring through Megaupload." Among other information (PDF), the MPAA is seeking "all data associated with those content files, the uploading or downloading of those files, and the Megaupload users who uploaded or downloaded those files."

From this wording, it sounds possible that the MPAA is considering pursuing suits against individual users, but the group told Wired that it's not planning anything of the sort. "If there’s evidence of a frequent infringers, high volume infringers, who are able to continue that operation despite knowledge by Megaupload, that could point to evidence that was involved in this infringing campaign," said MPAA vice president Howard Gantman. "There is a possibility that litigation might be pursued against Megaupload or various intermediaries involved in Megaupload’s operation. We’re not talking about individual users." It's still possible that the MPAA could go after uploaders, but content owners have scaled back individual lawsuits in recent years and user data has come up in previous trials, so this isn't necessarily disingenuous.

The same can't be said for everyone involved in the Megaupload dispute. TorrentFreak reports that a phony law firm has been sending letters to former Megaupload users, listing (apparently fake) IP addresses and timestamps and asking users to send 147 euros to an address in Slovakia in order to avoid a 10,000 euro fine. A piece of malware, meanwhile, has been redirecting users to a landing page allegedly for anti-piracy group GVU, asking for a 50 euro payment to settle a copyright claim. GVU has disavowed any knowledge of this scheme.