The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), on behalf of its client Kyle Goodwin, asked a federal court yesterday to unseal warrant-related documents surrounding the loss of access to Mr. Goodwin’s data after the government shut down Megaupload.com. Goodwin used Megaupload’s cloud-based storage system for his small business reporting on high school sporting events in Ohio. The site’s servers housing Mr. Goodwin’s data were frozen as part of a government seizure in January of this year–since then, Mr. Goodwin and others like him have had no access to their data.
Mr. Goodwin has consistently asked the court for the return of his property. In response, the court recently asked Mr. Goodwin and the government to provide additional information on how such a hearing might proceed.
“The government engaged in a overbroad seizure, denying Mr. Goodwin access to his data, along with likely millions of others who have never been accused of wrongdoing,” said Julie Samuels, EFF Staff Attorney. “Access to the government’s warrant application and related materials can help us learn how this could have happened and provide assistance in our efforts to get Mr. Goodwin his property back.”
In running his small business, Goodwin stored video footage on Megaupload servers as a backup to his hard drive and so he could share those large files with his producers all over Ohio. Earlier this year, the FBI shut down Megaupload.com and executed search warrants on the company’s servers, locking out all Megaupload customers in the process. When Goodwin’s hard drive crashed, he could not get access to any of his own video files, which he needed to conduct his business.
“Unsealing the court documents in this case is not only important to Mr. Goodwin, it is critical to the ongoing public and Congressional debate about the U.S. government’s increasing use of its seizure power in intellectual property cases,” added Cindy Cohn, EFF’s Legal Director. “A court in New Zealand recently upbraided the authorities who conducted similar seizures for failing to protect innocent people whose property was obviously likely to be swept up. The questions raised by the New Zealand court about overbroad seizures should also be asked, and answered, here in the U.S.”
EFF was assisted by co-counsel Abraham Sofaer of the Hoover Institution and John Davis of Williams Mullen.
For the full motion to unseal:
For more on the Megaupload Data Seizures: