MPAA to court: Don't give MegaUpload its servers back

Hollywood also opposes letting MegaUpload's users retrieve their data from the former file-locker site without assurances that pirated movies and TV shows won't circulate again.

MegaUpload founder Kim DotCom

The trade group for the top Hollywood film studios told a federal court that it opposes any plan that would allow MegaUpload to buy back its servers.

That unyielding stance position could hurt MegaUpload's efforts to retrieve its servers, which company lawyer Ira Rothken said it needs to defend itself. In January, the United States filed criminal copyright charges against the cyberlocker service, founder Kim DotCom and other managers. DotCom and six others are expected to fight U.S. attempts to extradite them to this country.

The Motion Picture Association of America laid out its position in an 8-page response to a motion filed by Carpathia Hosting, the company maintaining the 25,000 servers formerly used by MegaUpload. Carpathia said two weeks ago that the cost of maintaining the servers has surpassed $500,000 and wants the court to either help carry some of the burden or allow it to wipe the servers clean so they may be put to work elsewhere.

The MPAA also said in its response that it opposes allowing former MegaUpload users to retrieve their data from the servers if that means pirated movies may be circulated again.

Lawyers for the trade group told the court that they had been informed MegaUpload's lawyers had already obtained the data they needed to make their case, according to court documents. Regardless, the MPAA said that handing over the servers to the company risked enabling the resurrection of MegaUpload:

The MPAA members' principal concern is assuring that adequate steps are taken to prevent the MPAA members' content on the [MegaUpload] servers... from falling back into the hands of MegaUpload or otherwise entering the stream of commerce.

Rothken, MegaUpload's U.S.-based lawyer, told CNET that when he tried to buy the servers back he made clear that he planned to make the servers available only to lawyers and that he would block copyrighted works from making their way into the wild again. Rothken added that he suspects the government's refusal to allow the company to access the servers was intended to unfairly impede its legal defense.

Meanwhile, at least one former MegaUpload user is getting restless. Last week, Kyle Goodwin, who operates, a site that follows high school athletics in Ohio, asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to allow him to retrieve his videos, which he says are his lawful property and were stored at MegaUpload.

Goodwin is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates for technology companies and Internet users. EFF has asked the court to create some kind of procedure that would allow anyone who stored lawful material on MegaUpload to have a chance at recovering their possessions.

"There may unfortunately be users whose legitimate files are now caught up in the illegal activity of MegaUpload," MPAA lawyers wrote in their motion. "We are sympathetic to those users, although we do not know how many there actually are as the Goodwin brief only identifies one. However, if the court is willing to consider creating a receiver membership mechanism to allow retrieval of files it is essential that the mechanism include a procedure that ensures that any materials the users download are not files that have been illegally uploaded to their accounts."

The court has scheduled a hearing on this issue for sometime later this month.