back to article EFF helps MegaUpload users claw legit stuff back from Feds

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a self-proclaimed people's champion in the battlefield of digital rights, has waded into the controversy around the MegaUpload site, hoping to help legit users of the site to recover their 'lawful' content. Julie Samuels of EFF says that her organisation is "troubled that so many …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What kind of bellend puts their only copy of important files on MegaUpload?

    1. Steve Renouf


      What bellend puts their stuff on any cloud, losing direct access to and control of those files???!!

      1. Keep Refrigerated


        The sort of bellend who might want a convenient way to distribute an (open source) driver for hardware, a configuration file or script, patch or other entirely legitimate but large files they want to distribute quickly to a wide variety of users around the globe (who they may or may not know).

        I'm personally thankful for file-lockers that mean I don't have to join a forum to get hold of a custom script or driver for my Linux box or Android phone. They provide an essential service for us bellends. Otherwise distributors would have to rely on email or social networks to get such files far and wide and that has obvious hurdles.

        1. david wilson

          >>"The sort of bellend who might want a convenient way to distribute an (open source) driver for hardware, a configuration file or script, patch or other entirely legitimate but large files they want to distribute quickly to a wide variety of users around the globe (who they may or may not know)."

          Well, that's not really an answer to the question "What kind of bellend puts their only copy of..."

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            It's very easy for it to become the only copy you know of

            You forget that a backup can quickly become the only copy in existence, and stays that way for quite some time.

            How many people have off-site backups of everything (or even anything) in case their house burns down, or a power surge wipes out their in-home backups?

            Of those that have off-site backups, how many people are using a "cloud" service as their offsite backup?

            I suspect a lot of people had a copy on their hard drive and a copy on MegaUpload - treating the MegaUpload as both distribution and backup.

            It's a good bet that every week a large number of people lose their 'home' copy of something important, whether due to HDD crash, virus or accidents.

            If any of them have suffered the above since MegaUpload went down before they could find and use a suitable alternative, then that data is lost to them, even though they were only using a (cheap) "cloud" for backups.

            You also forget that upload speeds are really slow - it could take a long time to get your data back into a cloud, even if you find a suitable alternative immediately.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What bellend puts ANYTHING on a cloud ?

    2. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      The sort of bellend that didn't read the T&Cs when they signed up! I am fairly certain that MU made no claims as to the longevity or safety of anything uploaded to them, they simply wouldn't be able to handle the onslaught of insurance claims if they lost stuff.

      I'm fairly certain the MU T&C says something like, "Upload stuff if you like but we ain't gonna guarantee it'll be there in an hours time, let alone tomorrow, next week or next month, your call if you still want to trust us with it!".

    3. kevin biswas

      Yeah, I kind of agree.

      But then again I wonder how many Gmail users keep an offline copy of their emails ? And if the answer is 'not many', then what is the difference between trusting megaupload with your photos and trusting google with your emails ?

      1. Steve Knox
        Paris Hilton

        @kevin biswas

        What kind of bellend trusts Google with their e-mails (the important e-mails, anyway)?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What kind of bellend trusts Google AT ALL ?

      2. carter brandon

        I use pop3, so I don't leave any mail on Google, though whether it is actually destroyed when I delete it is a different matter.

      3. John Lilburne

        Google vs Megaupload

        OTOH there is a commercial activity profiting from illegal content, OTOH there is yet to be a conviction wrt to Megaupload.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward you'd TRUST Google!?

        Would you? And Facebook too I suppose. Wow. Just wow.

        Why would you trust ANY faceless corporation to `take care` of your data?! You don't even know these f*cking people. If it's YOURS and it's IMPORTANT.... LOOK AFTER IT YOURSELF.

        What is wrong with people?! Sheeeeeesh.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The one who wants to protest at the revocation of freedom.

      We'll be round shortly to fit a speed limiter on your car. You no longer have the right to break the law and face the consequences you will be prevented by every means, welcome to Minority Report.

      1. John Tserkezis

        "We'll be round shortly to fit a speed limiter on your car. You no longer have the right to break the law and face the consequences you will be prevented by every means, welcome to Minority Report."

        I am quite sure this will *never* happen. The current course of action is to *monitor*, without contol. After all, if you're actively prevented from breaking the law, there's no payout for that. And this is a bad thing when the country or states' budget depends on this type of thing.

        View the 130Km/h (~80mph) speed limiter on some cars. Plenty high enough for you to get a speeding ticket under any road conditions, while actively preventing the rare speeds that vehicle might be capable of. The 10+ Kkm/h over the limit is the number one moneymaker on the books.

  2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    My rule is...

    ...put it on a hosting site for others to see and for my convenience when I am away from home, but keep my own copies it on the most persistent media I can find. For extremely valuable information, keep copies outside of the home as well! Unfortunately, what counts as a persistent media at the moment. I'm finding writeable CDs from the late 90's are already becoming a bit dodgy.

    Having said that, I must backup my laptop. Ho hum, I'm busy, so that will have to will wait for another day(!)

    1. Ogi

      It all really depends on how much you want to spend. LTO Tape has a shelf life of 30 years (at least) and can store a good chunk of data (000's of GB) but the initial investment in drive and tapes is pricy.

      CD's are not that good, because the quality went down as mass production ramped up and they got cheaper. I still have perfectly readable CD's from my parents (80's) while CD's from the 90's and 00's are already falling apart.

      My solution between these is Hard disks. I can buy 1TB Quite cheap, and they tend to last 5-10 years on the shelf. Also if they do go south there is a ton of recovery companies that can do something about it (normally if a drive fails from lack of use, it's the electromechanics that go, not the platters/data). Every once in a while I can transfer the data to a newer disk as time goes on, perhaps adding more data (like when I went from 500GB -> 1TB).

      I also have a thing with a mate, where we each bought some drives, and we keep our really important stuff backed up on each others machines (via rsync on the net). Makes sure we have geographically separate backups of critical stuff.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        LTO Tape shelf life 30yrs!?

        I call BS on this. The manufacturers recommendation are based on simulated aging and ideal conditions and bear no resembeence to reality. When retrieving data from LTO tapes that were only 5 years old, stored under recommended conditions we had about 1 in 5 without errors and even this involved a lot of tape drive cleaning.

        If you want your data to survive over time the only way is to copy it to new media on a regular basis.

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


        Not sure if you are still reading, but I am a sysadmin using LTO tapes in my daily life.

        Even if the tapes are still readable in 30 years time (debatable), are you still going to have a device that will read them reliably in 10 years? In my time as an admin (~30 years), I've used 1/2" mag tapes, DecTapeII, QIC cartridges, 1, 2, 5 and 20GB 8mm Exebyte, 4mm DAT, DLT, IBM 3840 and 3570 cartridges, and even Sinclair Microdrives. All of them are now obsolete, and I would expect that of all of them, you would probably have better success finding someone who could read 1/2" tapes than any of the other formats. LTO says that it will read and write current generation and last generation tapes, and read one previous generation, but that is all that is guaranteed.

        Also think of floppies. Remember 8" floppies? I still have some (out of nostalgia because I can't read them). 5.25", 3", 3.5". All dead. Jazz drives and the others. Gone and mostly forgotten.

        Disks are no good either. ST506 Shugart is dead. ESDI is dead. Older SCSI is dead, IDE and EIDE are dying, even the older SATA disks will not be able to be connected at some time in the near future.

        My view is that CD and DVD still have some life left in them as backup. I just wish I could trust them more.

    2. DanceMan

      writeable CDs

      "I'm finding writeable CDs from the late 90's are already becoming a bit dodgy."

      I've never trusted them for long term backup. My long-ago photography experience taught me about archival permanence, and lack of. B&W film can be processed to very long term survival if also carefully stored. Colour slides and negs all fade because they use dyes. And what's on writeable CDs? Dyes. I've had unrecorded spindles left out for a year that faded around the edges, leaving only the inner portion usable. The same will happen in dark storage; it will just take longer.

  3. Graham Wilson

    Said many times the EFF is a paper tiger on its own.

    Sure, the EFF's better than nothing but it's time for groups and individuals to join forces.

    We saw what the effect a collective noise had on SOPA and the Megaupload is all part of the same debacle.

    Going cold now will surely play into SOPA advocates' hands.

    Round two won't be so easy, for they're already regrouping. So must we.

  4. Irongut Silver badge

    Deleting Evidence?

    How can the US government delete the content stored on MegaUpload? Surely their prosecutors need the pirate content to try to prove illegal doings and equally the defense need the legitimate content to try to prove that MU had legal uses. Deleting the content should cause a mistrial.

    (obviously IANAL)

    1. Paul_Murphy

      Makes no sense to me either.

      How can any sort of prosecution go ahead if the supposed infringing files have been deliberately deleted by the people doing the arresting?

      Miscarriage of justice doesn't even start to cover it.

      To be honest the whole thing stinks of scare-mongering by the copyright-holders, which is worthy of note if this is true:


      1. James Smith 3

        Huh? What on earth are you guys on about? The feds aren't deleting the data. The hosting companies will be because they're no longer being paid by MegaUpload to keep the data.

        Except of course they won't be deleting anything, because no-one in their right mind would delete data that is central to such a large scale investigation to avoid the chance of being hauled into court themselves.

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge


      The prosecution say that they have already taken the images that they need to prove their case. (In the UK, ISTR they would actually need the originals for court, but I guess since this is all cloudy and doesn't really exist, images of the files will suffice :)

      Depending on how the prosecution play this, they may not need to prove everything that was on the servers. Maybe just the internal working files of MU are enough. Possibly any amount of non-infringing files on the servers won't make any difference to the case? Possibly they will argue that the deletion of the files is a commercial matter between MU and it's providers (even though it was the World Police frozing the "terrorists" money that caused the commercial matter to occur)? Who knows?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Irongut > Surely their prosecutors need the pirate content to try to prove illegal doings...

      No they don't.

      The Official Policy is: "If we say you did it, you did it --- and we'll give you a few years in Gitmo to think about it.

    4. Tom 13

      Not only NAL, also can't read.

      The US Government haven't and won't be deleting any data. They seized the servers, made copies, and returned them to their owners. The owners are the ones threatening to delete the data because in a separate action the US Government also froze MegaCopyrightInringement's assets under RICO statutes (money laundering) so they can't pay their bill.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did megaupload make any claims over the longevity of data uploaded to its servers. From what I read its business model was selling higher bandwidth to downloaders with upload being free. From google results it appears its terms of service said that uploaders were solely responsible for data uploaded, is responsible for archiving and has liability if the data is lost ... i.e. anyone uploading data has (implicitly through agreeing to terms even if not read) agreed that its their own data, they will ensure that it is archived and if it does get lost then they accept liability (because they put it on a server that makes no guarantees). So think that deleting contents of the servers is in line with the service uploaders agreed to!

  6. (AMPC) Anonymous and mostly paranoid coward
    Big Brother

    Notice: your home videos were inadvertently wiped out by Federal duplicity.

    We hope you have backups, if not consider our new improved squeaky clean-file locker service: Oceania StorageTM. We strive to comply with all Federal legislation and regulation no matter how restrictive or intrusive.

    I'm having trouble finding any historic or legal parallels, although the government's right to Eminent Domain springs to mind.

    1) You have built your house on a piece of land where we need to build a new highway, Here's a check for "market" value. The bulldozers will be there in seven days. Have a nice day.

    2) You chose (and paid) to store your files on a server rented by a low-grade wide-boy who is now in trouble with the Federal Copyright police. Sorry no check, no highway and we can't control what this scum bag's creditors decided to do with your home videos. Maybe you should look into a PO Box or cheap, portable USB storage. Have a nice day.

    If legitimate MegaUpload clients lose their data because of government inaction (or malignant neglect) it will set another very bad precedent within what is already a highly toxic legal situation.

    This is making some of the more hysterical claims about SOPA. PIPA and ACTA's potential impact on civil liberties and privacy start to look optimistic.

    I predict some pretty pissed-off citizens will come streaming out of the network if it all gets wiped. Bumper sales for pitchforks and torches are forecasted. Go EFF!

    The whole crusade against file-sharing is becoming more than ludicrous, it is becoming scary.

    Shame on America, if this comes to pass it will be remembered as the digital equivalent of a goverment-sanctioned pogrom or book-burning.

    God help us all.

    1. James Smith 3

      I think this is a better example:

      The local church has a notice board that people put documents on so everyone else can read them. A load of people posted things they shouldn't so the church has been cordoned off by the police and the vicar hauled into court as he was making a lot of money by turning a blind eye. Trouble is, the notice board was rented and the owner has come to collect it, threatening to put all the documents in the bin in the process.

      1. Steve Knox
        Thumb Up

        @James Smith

        I like your analogy. I first balked at comparing MegaUpload to a church, but seeing the religious fervor of some commentards here, I begin to see the resemblance.

        1. JEDIDIAH

          Religious fervor...

          Religious fervor about the government seizing people's property and then destroying it?

          Imagine that.

          You might think that we were the types to get uptight about our rights being violated. You might think us "religious types" might have even started an armed revolt over this sort of nonsense.

          Get some tar, some feathers, and a keg of Sam Adams.

          1. Steve Knox


            The government has destroyed nothing in this case. The US government did seize property (as part of a legitimate criminal investigation -- do you believe that should not happen?). Once it had copied the information it was looking for, It returned the property unharmed.

            What right has been violated here?

            1. Mad Mike

              @Steve Knox

              An interesting question here, is what happens if they are found not guilty? Their business has effectively been destroyed on the basis of a legitimate investigation, but the actions of the authorities has directly caused the destruction of the business due to freezing accounts, which were used to pay bills. If found not guilty, who's responsible? Of course, the chances of this are slim, as the US have no intention of finding them innocent. Surely, till the investigation is complete and the trial has been completed and they've been proven guilty, shouldn't the accounts be allowed to continue paying bills? After all, the seizure of the money is only legally right if they are found guilty?

              1. Tom 13

                Not an interesting question at all.

                The statutes under which the money was frozen have all been passed by Congress, approved by the President, been found constitutional by SCOTUS, and have nothing to do with either copyrights or terrorism. They do have a great deal to do with something that metastasized in the 1920's through1940's period in the US: organized crime. The outcome in all cases has been that the government has no liability even if the accused are not found guilty, unless the accused can prove that the government knowingly and maliciously pursued a false accusation. And as the Scooter Libby persecution shows, that's an awfully high level of proof to meet.

                Now there might be an interesting question in whether or not citizens continue to regard this as a proper state of affairs. I started leaning against it myself a few years back because it has mutated from its original purpose and is being used more frequently against innocent people.

            2. (AMPC) Anonymous and mostly paranoid coward

              Actually they just froze megaupload's assets

              As a result, they can't pay their hosting bills and the hosting company will/can remove files after a certain time period.I shall try to grasp for another analogy (liked the church bulletin board one, btw). Bet some pretty interesting stuff was posted on that bulletin board, too.

              For me, this just shows what happens when bad laws are sledge-hammer enforced with no regard for secondary consequences. I would put Kimble's legitmate customers in the same boat as people who were ripped off in a Ponzi scheme but can't get their money back after the arrest and conviction of the scammers, simply because the customer records were destroyed. Only in this case, the prosecutors don't seem too worried if that happens.

              We all know that people who have lost personal data lose something that is very difficult or even impossible to replace. Family snaps, whatever... a lot of them probably believed (rightly or wrongly) their stuff was safe. Their data shouldn't be thrown out of the lifeboat just because Kimboy thumbed his nose at some DMCA notices. Any other acts of larceny he may or may not have committed should not result in innocent people being screwed out of their data. Most unfair, even by today's standards.

          2. Bjorg


            The government didn't seize any property except for servers owned by hosting companies and leased by MegaUpload. I have an open wireless network. You can come to my house and start putting files in a public share on my computer. In fact, I even named the folder "feel free to upload files here but i cannot gaurantee them and they they will be cleaned out every 3 days via an automated script". It's not the best name for a folder, but it gets the point across. So when the government seizes my computer as evidence in a trial, and three days later my automated script deletes your files, what right do you have to get all pissed off at them? If you honestly think you have a right to the data you put in MY public folder, regardless of whether the government seized my computer, then I have to wonder what you did with your education.

      2. Tom 13

        Almost but not quite there.

        You also need that the police have:

        1) voluminous copies of ads the church has run encouraging people to place things they shouldn't on the bulletin board.

        2) evidence that because the bulletin board was not covered by the church's tax exempt status, they engaged in money laundering to avoid paying the taxes.

        Number 2 turns out to be more important than 1 for practical purposes, because that's the one that let's the assets be seized BEFORE the trial.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    other context ...

  8. Wombling_Free

    Welcome... the future.




    First door on the right, one cross each.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    51st State?

    "The FBI raided the MegaUpload offices in New Zealand".

    An easy mistake to make in the circumstances but, strictly speaking, the FBI's writ doesn't run as far as the land of the long white cloud.

    Not yet, anyway.

  10. heyrick Silver badge

    Never mind the bellends...

    Surely the servers, files, and data should be protected under law until trial? Think how easy the following would be without evidence to say otherwise:

    "Your honour, we examined the data on MegaUpload's files. 78% was ripped-off movies, 9% was hentai animé, and the rest was pornographic, some involving children."

    I mean, if the only copy is selected data held by the prosecution, how reliable is that going to be?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The EFF does not represent my interest or that of many consumers

    The EFF is a pretty self-serving outfit IMO and does not respresent my interest or that of many people I know. I wouldn't trust them for the time of day.

  12. andy 45

    @AC 06:05 re: EFF

    What are you talking about -- 'wouldn't trust them' etc???

    You provide nothing to back up your assertions about the EFF. With respect, I think you're talking crap.

    As a regular visito to the EFF's deep links blog, I've seen the EFF frequently step in and back up the litte guy, and always stick up for 'what's right'.

    If only we had a UK based version of the EFF. The nearest we have is Liberty, who are limp and the best they can do is make a 1-line statement about the latest freedom-taking scandal the government is thrusting upon us.

    EFF are absolute heroes!

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