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MegaUpload to court: Put civil cases against us on hold

MegaUpload lawyers want the court to hold up civil suits filed in March against the cyberlocker service until the criminal charges filed by the U.S. are resolved.

Members of MegaUpload's defense team: (left to right) Derrick Shaffer, William Burck and Ira Rothken. Greg Sandoval/CNET

MegaUpload wants to defend itself against all its accusers.

But one at a time, please.

MegaUpload, the cyberlocker service that the U.S. government alleges was a front for a huge criminal copyright scheme, has asked a federal court to stay civil suits filed in March against the company. MegaUpload has also asked for more time to respond to the complaint.

"The government's seizure of assets has rendered the alleged conspirators unable to pay the fees for the servers through which this allegedly illegal activity was conducted," wrote MegaUpload's legal team, which is led Ira Rothken, the attorney leading MegaUpload's worldwide defense. MegaUpload filed its motion today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Microhits, a music company and Valcom, a film and TV production company (not to be confused with MTV-parent Viacom), accused MegaUpload in a copyright claim filed in march of inducing users to infringe their work.

One of the reasons that MegaUpload lawyers say the criminal case should take precedence is that the civil suit filed by Microhits and Valcom is nearly identical to the criminal complaint filed against MegaUpload in January by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. In the U.S. indictment, MegaUpload and founder Kim DotCom are accused of criminal copyright violations, racketeering, and money laundering.

Rothken said today that not all the defendants have been served, or because of the criminal charges against them, would be in a position to respond to the civil complaint.

"If required to proceed to defend this civil litigation, defendants Kim Dotcom and Megaupload Ltd. would be forced to choose between Fifth Amendment rights in the Criminal Action and their right to defend against the civil claims asserted in this action," MegaUpload's lawyers wrote in their motion. "That would be an unfair constitutional burden on their rights."