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Megaupload: while FBI defends seizure overseas, MPAA is 'sympathetic' to users who uploaded legal files

Megaupload: while FBI defends seizure overseas, MPAA is 'sympathetic' to users who uploaded legal files

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The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has asked an Eastern Virginia District Court to ensure that no illegally downloaded copyrighted material on Megaupload's servers be released back to users. Meanwhile, the FBI claims that data is not a physical entity and is exempt from international law.

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Kanye West Loves Megaupload
Kanye West Loves Megaupload

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) says that it is "sympathetic" to users that stored "legitimately acquired or created data" on Megaupload's servers, but points out that the file-sharing service's terms of use "clearly disclaimed any guarantee or continued access to uploaded materials."

Responding to a brief filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of a user, the MPAA asked an Eastern Virginia District Court to ensure that no illegally downloaded copyrighted material on Megaupload's servers be released back to users. The court is currently deciding if users should be granted access to their legal Megaupload data. If the court allows access for users to retrieve their files, the MPAA says the mechanism for doing so must include safeguards that ensure no illegally uploaded material is released. The association hasn't offered a solution for how the access should be monitored, but says that "in no event" should any Megaupload employees or representatives be allowed to access the servers through the mechanism, raising questions as to who exactly is supposed to monitor the data.

Meanwhile, the battle to determine whether the FBI acted outside of its power when it procured data from Kim Dotcom's hard drives rages on in New Zealand. Under international law, the FBI has no right seize property and take it back to America without permission from New Zealand's Attorney-General. According to Stuff, John Pike, a lawyer representing the Attorney-General asserted that the FBI acted legally as the copied data did not amount to physical material. Pike said that "[information] may be the most valuable thing we have, but it is not scooped up by the act — nothing of the physical items have gone overseas and that was our undertaking."

Justice Winkelmann, in charge of the case in New Zealand, said that there was an obligation that material deemed irrelevant to the investigation be returned. Pike says it is impossible to determine what is relevant to the investigation at this point. Winkelmann has yet to decide if the FBI broke international law by taking the data.

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