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US government "destroyed" more than 10 million "legitimate" files in Megaupload raid

Northeastern University has recently released a report claiming that the US government took down nearly 10.75 million legitimate files when it ordered New Zealand authorities to raid the compound of Internet personality Kim Dotcom.

The site Megaupload was shut down after New Zealand tactical police raided the compound citing massive copyright infringement hosted on the popular site. The research which compared the infringing materials held on other cyber-locker sites like FileFactory, Easy-share, Filesonic, Wupload and Megaupload, came to the conclusion that at least 31 per cent of the files on Megaupload were infringing, while 4.3 per cent were clearly not. The balance of the remaining 65 per cent of files was either unknown or consensus could not be reached among the researchers as to whether or not they were infringing copyright. Tobias Lauinger, one of the authors of the paper said: “What I find most interesting about our results is that they support what many people were already suspecting before: That Megaupload was partially being used for “illegal” file sharing, but that there were also millions of perfectly legitimate files stored on Megaupload.”The US government has always maintained that the Megaupload was hosting infringing material with very few legitimate uses in their justification for ordering the raid. However, there has never been any evidence produced that backs up the claim. Northeastern University researchers took it upon themselves to look out various cyber-lockers by extracting metadata from the files found and then examined samples from each of the sites.Using the most conservative estimates under the researchers’ control variables, over 10 million files were said to have legitimate use and not to be held under copyright. The research has also provided interesting insight into how users are using certain lockers to store infringing material. The research confirms that “one click” file-hosting services appear to be predominantly used to upload pirated content.

Below is a graph of the research findings

Of all the cyber-lockers examined by the researchers, Megaupload appeared to have the second highest proportion of legitimate files in the study. Kim Dotcom is fighting extradition to the US and the US government has refused to hand over files back to the users who lost their data after the site was taken offline and Megaupload’s servers were seized in 2011. Dotcom has always maintained that the legitimate files made up a far greater percentage of Megauploads files than the US government claimed in its justification. Until now, US authorities have asserted that most if not all of the files on Megaupload were the result of piracy and have denied that any legitimate content had become collateral damage.