Aging Hardware Could Corrupt Evidence in Megaupload Case

Defendant's former service providers Cogent and Carpathia refuse to be responsible for preserving data on DOJ's behalf

Chris Burt

May 20, 2016

2 Min Read
Aging Hardware Could Corrupt Evidence in Megaupload Case
Kim Dotcom speaks to the media following his bail hearing at Auckland District Court on December 1, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

WHIR logo



Hardware degradation could cause some headaches for investigators in the Megaupload piracy suit.

Megaupload, founded by the infamous Kim Dotcom, was shut down by the US Department of Justice 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 and the Motion Picture Association of America. “Without the assistance of a computer forensic expert, however, Cogent cannot confirm that the data remains extant and uncorrupted.”

SEE ALSO: Contents of Megaupload’s Canadian Servers Still Unknown as Ontario Court Determines Next Steps

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 the web host is unwilling to perform free diagnostics and maintenance or repairs on machines it is essentially holding for the DOJ.

Another company that used to provide services to Megaupload is Carpathia Hosting, which was last year acquired by data center provider QTS Realty. In the criminal case against Megaupload, 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.

A judge told the parties to the criminal action to figure out the Carpathia server maintenance issue in April of 2012, and has been attempting to arbitrate some kind of arrangement ever since.

This first ran at

Subscribe to the Data Center Knowledge Newsletter
Get analysis and expert insight on the latest in data center business and technology delivered to your inbox daily.

You May Also Like