Entrepreneur Kyle Goodwin has been trying for months to retrieve the videos he stored with Megaupload. And now it looks like he'll have to wait quite a bit longer, at least if the U.S. government has its way.
This week, the federal authorities filed papers arguing that Goodwin, who runs OhioSportsNet, hasn't yet shown that he's entitled to reclaim his videos.
Goodwin and his employees travel throughout Ohio and take videos of high school sports events, which he sells. His servers crashed on January, shortly before the federal government shut down Megaupload for alleged copyright infringement.
After the server crash, Goodwin's only copies of the videos that he and his employees created were with Megaupload. But when the feds shut down the site, Goodwin was no longer able to access that material.
In May, he filed court papers seeking the return of his videos. U.S. District Court Judge Liam O'Grady in Alexandria, Va., who is presiding over the criminal proceedings against Megaupload executives, recently decided to hold a hearing to determine the fate of the clips.
The feds take the position that Goodwin must now jump through a number of legalistic hoops.
First, the feds say that it's not enough that Goodwin has submitted a declaration stating that he owns the videos. The government also makes the astonishing request that he should produce the contracts between himself and Megaupload, and the contracts between Megaupload and the host company, Carpathia. "Those contracts not only bind Mr. Goodwin’s use of Megaupload’s service and Carpathia’s servers, they also likely limit any property interest he may have in the data stored on Carpathia’s property," the government alleges.
The reasoning behind that request is questionable at best. Most users like Goodwin don't have access to companies' contracts with their servers, let alone decide to use a particular cloud storage company based on its relationship with an outside service provider. On the contrary, people just assume that if they store material in the cloud -- whether with Megaupload or any other company -- the material will be there when they need it.
The government also claims that Goodwin might not own the rights to all of the material he uploaded to the cloud. "Numerous videos produced by Mr. Goodwin have as their soundtracks recordings of popular copyrighted music," the government alleges. The feds add that some of the music files match the "hash values of pirated versions of popular music."
But that in itself means nothing. Goodwin might have licensed the music, or he might have made fair use of it, or been entitled to draw on it for other reasons. Of course, whether the soundtrack was authorized or not, the video portion of the data certainly wasn't pirated.
The bottom line is that the feds are trying to make it extraordinarily difficult for Goodwin to reclaim the files he says he placed in the cloud. That stance should concern everyone who stores material online.