Kyle Goodwin owns the business OhioSportsNet, which covers local high school sports in Ohio. He and his employees travel throughout the state, take videos of various high school games, and offer them online; the company also sells highlight reels to parents.
Goodwin had the misfortune of storing backup copies of his videos on the cyberlocker Megaupload, which was shut down by the feds in January. In another stroke of bad luck, his own servers crashed shortly before Megaupload was taken offline. The upshot is, Goodwin has no way of accessing the only copies of the videos he created.
In March, his attorneys at the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation filed papers with the federal court in Alexandria, Va. -- where the criminal charges against Megaupload executives are pending -- seeking the return of his files. But as of Friday, he wasn't any closer to retrieving his files than in March, prompting the EFF to file a new round of papers with the court. "Mr. Goodwin -- who all parties agree is completely innocent in this matter -- has already been deprived of access to his property for months," his attorneys say in a motion seeking to access the videos. "The prospect of waiting years for the return of his property, which is apparently what the government contemplates, is indefensible."
The EFF also makes the point Goodwin wasn't the only one affected. "The government also seized the property of an unknown but significant number of other people," the motion states. "If the Court does not act, all of those people also face years of deprivation, if not permanent loss."
Regardless of the merits of the case against Megaupload, cloud storage obviously won't be a feasible option for many people unless they're able to retrieve the material they place in digital lockers. The Justice Department's criminal prosecutors, who have brought the case against Megaupload officials, understandably have priorities other than the future of cloud computing. But the judge who is presiding over the case can and should step in to make sure that users like Goodwin have a way to retrieve material they entrusted to the cloud.