[I know I don’t usually write about Technology news, but I have been following this story as it has unfolded and its central issue is one that will, at some increasingly soon point, directly relate to video games.]
Who can hold the 25 petabytes that formally represented Megaupload? That is the question that faces many different parties in the current court case against the service. Carpathia Hosting, the current holder of the physical data, no longer wants it and it is up to some other party, they say, to pay for its storage. In an on-going discussion between the MPAA, EFF, Carpathia and even the government, there are no easy answers.
The problem though is simple. Since the government has declared that all 25 petabytes represents potential evidence in the case against Megaupload, Carpathia Hosting has had to hold on to it. However, they are now reporting that it is costing them $9,000 per day to hold the data for no other reason than the government wants to eventually go through it. Carpathia wants to either get payed the hosting costs or to give it up for someone else to host until it can be processed by the government. It’s that processing though that has brought in other parties, notably the EFF.
Not all the data is illegal. In fact, much of it is possibly personal data or even potentially incriminating data for users who were using Megaupload as a file hosting solution. However, other than Carpathia Hosting itself, no other party can completely be trusted with it. The MPAA, who brought case against the service, says that Megaupload would destroy evidence if they regain control. The EFF, although they cannot take on the data themselves, wants to allow users to save files which have been locked up with the illegal ones and, of course, fear what governmental control or even the MPAA itself would do if either had exclusive access.
Because of the size of the data, there are no quick solutions here. Carpathia Hosting, in all likelihood, will have to be payed to continue to hold the data until some compromise is reached on holding the data. Yet, the problem still remains. How do you determine, without looking at it, if some content is infringing or not? If it is looked at and it is not infringing but incriminating, what happens then? What right do users have, to put it very bluntly, to their data if it is saved in the cloud? Do they have any at all?
What about video games?
What we are witnessing is just the beginning of this issue and potentially a case to be echoed again and again: how do you save a cloud?
25 petabytes is a substantial amount of data, of course, but it is equal if not less in size to the data that most online services hold as well. If a more well-known service, let’s say Steam for instance, were to get taken to court, the outcome would be catastrophic for most PC gamers. If their data was locked up and they could not reach it, how could they play any of their games or even access their personal information?
There may even come a point within the next few years when the next generation consoles are all-digital. What that means for users when situations like this occur will be frustrating on all sides as the question that this case brings up will come back to haunt future cases: Who owns the data and what right do they have to it?