There's a chance that after four years Megaupload users may be reunited with their lost files. U.S. District Court Judge Liam O'Grady has asked several stakeholders to chime in on the possible return of the Megaupload servers, which also holds crucial evidence for Kim Dotcom's defense.
Nearly four years have passed since Megaupload’s servers were raided by U.S. authorities. Since then very little progress has been made in the criminal case.
Kim Dotcom and his Megaupload colleagues are currently awaiting the result of their extradition hearing in New Zealand and have yet to formally appear in a U.S. court.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Megaupload servers from Carpathia Hosting remain in storage in Virginia, some of which contain crucial evidence as well as valuable files uploaded by users. The question is, for how long.
In August QTS, the company that now owns the servers after acquiring Carpathia, asked the court if it can get rid of the data which is costing them thousands of dollars per month in storage fees.
This prompted a response from a former user who wants to preserve his data, as well as Megaupload, who don’t want any of the evidence to be destroyed.
For its part the U.S. Government denied any responsibility for the servers stating that they already copied all the crucial evidence.
Faced with these different positions, U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady now has to decide how to move forward. A few days ago he sent off a set of questions to the relevant stakeholders, including Megaupload, the U.S. Government and the MPAA.
The questions deal with the logistics and financial implications of a possible return of the data, as well as the concerns and problems that may arise.
For example, the hosting company was asked if the data stored on the servers is recoverable at all. Several years have passed, which may mean that some hard drives have degraded significantly.
Also, the Judge wants to know how much Megaupload is willing to pay for the servers and how it would preserve these while protecting any confidential data.
Previously Megaupload offered to buy back the servers for $1 million, but in their latest submission Dotcom’s legal team suggested that the U.S. Government should bear the costs.
Judge O’Grady’s questions (pdf)
The Judge also asked the MPAA about its concerns regarding the copyrighted material stored on the servers, which may become an issue if users are granted access to their data.
Finally, Judge O’Grady asks all parties to estimate the costs of returning the files to innocent users, and how they would go about contacting them.
The questions suggest that the servers could indeed be opened up in the near future. This is good news for users who still hope to retrieve their files, and also for Kim Dotcom and the other Megaupload defendants who say they contain crucial evidence.
The responses to the full set of questions are due before the end of next week and the court is likely to issue an order soon after.