Hardware degradation could cause some headaches for investigators in the Megaupload piracy suit.
Megaupload was shut down by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in January 2012, and maintenance of the servers the evidence is stored on became an issue almost immediately. Despite this, Megupload filed a response (PDF via TorrentFreak) in it civil suit last week confirming that the plaintiffs’ evidence is potentially at risk of being permanently lost due to the degradation of servers stored by web host Cogent.
“Recently, the parties have each been advised by Cogent that it has been unable to read eight of the sixteen computer hard drives on which the Megaupload cached data have been stored,” Megaupload says in a response to a notice filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). “Without the assistance of a computer forensic expert, however, Cogent cannot confirm that the data remains extant and uncorrupted.”
The filing by the RIAA and MPAA was in response to a request for a six-month pause in the ongoing lawsuit between the industry groups and the alleged piracy enabler. The RIAA and MPAA objected to the delay, complaining of the risk of data loss.
Cogent says its inability to read the data could be caused by “drive heads” which are “frozen,” but is unwilling to perform free diagnostics and maintenance or repairs on machines it is essentially holding for the DOJ.
In the criminal case against Megaupload, Carpathia parent QTS recently moved to be relieved of its obligations relating to the storage of over 1,100 servers once leased by Megaupload. A decision by the court on that matter is pending.
“Having seized control of the Carpathia servers in order to obtain ‘selected’ portions of the data, the government has triggered its duty to preserve the remaining data because the entire data-set ‘might be significant’ to the defense of the Criminal Action,” Megaupload argues, and that entire data-set includes the Cogent servers.
The RIAA and MPAA filed a motion (PDF) on the same day as Megaupload to have the Cogent data subpoenaed, or copied and preserved by a court-appointed third party.