Pirate Parties Organizing Lawsuit Against FBI Over Megaupload Takedown

The Megaupload troubles make for interesting discussion because there is much to be said on both sides. Whether the illegal aspects of the network “outweigh” the legal aspects is a question that will be discussed for months and perhaps years.

But one thing can’t be disputed: after the two-year investigation by the FBI, the site’s takedown was swift and perhaps over-thorough. Thousands and thousands of users who had legitimate and often critical files hosted on the site have been left behind, their legal files hosted on a simple file-hosting service. A coalition of Pirate Party organizations, led by Pirates of Catalonia, are planning to sue the FBI over what they say are “huge personal, economic and image damages to a vast number of people.”

The group leading the charge contends that the FBI may have violated Spanish Law, and at any rate,

Regardless of ideology, or opinions on the legality or morality of those running Megaupload, actions such as the closure of this service cause huge damage to lawful users of the sites and are unacceptable and disproportionate violations of their rights.

Hard words to disagree with, whether you think Megaupload is a patsy being taken to school by IP mongers or a den of thieves getting what was coming to them. Either way, you have to agree that the wholesale takedown of the site harmed a lot of people totally unconnected to the alleged crimes performed by Megaupload.

The question of a grace period while the law does its work doesn’t seem to apply here: if, say, a cache of drugs was found in a public storage facility you used, you wouldn’t be surprised if the whole place shut down for a couple days while the law did its work. In this case the takedown may be permanent; having arrested the main actors in the company and seized many of their assets, chances are the site couldn’t be restored to working order without a fair amount of work. Not that that hasn’t happened before: The Pirate Bay relocated some servers last year to an actual secret cave after repeated raids and takedown attempts. And plenty of other favorite targets of law enforcement have proven more tenacious than expected.

The point is it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that files hosted on Megaupload will never again be accessible. If they are restored, it will still have been a clumsy and potentially illegal action that made them inaccessible, and the Pirate Parties hope to call out such actions for what they are and perhaps cause authorities to think twice before taking them again.