War for the Web
26 03.12

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Here’s a great dilemma that illustrates the physicality of the Internet, and the real dollars that drive it. When the Justice Department shut down Megaupload, they froze Megaupload’s ability to pay its bills. Megaupload’s ISP, Carpathia Hosting, cancelled their service contract. Carpathia Hosting houses all of megaupload’s content. Everything that consumers have uploaded to the site lives on Carpathia servers and hard drives.

But, and it is a big BUT, because of the ongoing court case, Carpathia cannot delete the data without a fear of lawsuits. Megaupload’s legitimate users could file a lawsuit if Carpathia deletes the data and the Justice Department’s case falls apart. At the same time, the data is evidence in the case against Megaupload, so the Feds don’t want the data deleted either.

Here’s the catch, Carpathia is hosting 25 petabytes of data for Megaupload. That’s 26 million gigabytes. That’s a lot of hard drives. Literally, that’s about 25 thousand one terabyte hard drives, all spinning away on Carpathia’s server racks. This is costing Carpathia roughly $9000.00 per DAY to maintain. Carpathia has basically stated that it cannot continue to host the data at its own cost. Someone else needs to take it. Megaupload has offered, but the Feds and the MPAA have argued against that for fear that they will tamper with the evidence. At the same time the MPAA and the Feds have refused to take possession of the data.

As if this wasn’t enough, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is claiming that the deletion of this data en masse would be a violation of consumers rights. Some people posted legitimate files to Megaupload and were sharing media and content that they had the rights to. EFF has threatened to sue on behalf of users if the data gets deleted.

So Carpathia Hosting is stuck between federal charges and a lawsuit. This is (A) a prime example of the way the physical Internet interacts with our economy. This stuff costs somebody money to host, so if you aren’t paying you should be asking yourself, who is?. It is also (B) a perfect example of the problems that Internet law enforcement faces in this digital age. Who should be responsible for these costs? Does it become part of the punishment for Megaupload? Do consumers just lose out? What is going to happen?

Check out more at Ars Technica, including a link to Carpathia’s Filing with the Justice Department.

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