The US Government has objected to MegaUpload’s appointment of a high profile US law firm, claiming the firm's prior work for Google and major Hollywood clients puts it at a conflict of interest.
In early April, MegaUpload added Andrew Schapiro, the attorney from top intellectual property law firm, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, who secured a favourable summary judgment for YouTube against Viacom.
Viacom last week successfully appealed the decision that YouTube was protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, forcing the pair back into battle over whether YouTube executives willfully turned a blind eye to infringing material uploaded to the site.
The US Government’s key objection is that the law firm has fought for companies that are also alleged victims of MegaUpload, and may be called as witnesses to support the Government's case, Torrent Freak reported.
The conflict is made more severe, according to the US Government, because the law firm is applying for MegaUpload’s seized funds -- to cover legal expenses -- from a pool that may be used as restitution for some of its former clients, such as Warner, Warner Bros., HBO, Sony.
Besides a handful of TV networks and studios, the firm also represented Napster, and more recently defended CBS over claims CNet encouraged piracy by distributing LimeWire. The suit has since been dropped.
The law firm on Thursday fired back a colourful 18-page “rebuttal memorandum”, alleging the Government was tying to prevent MegaUpload’s right to due process and decent legal advice.
“Yet, if the Government is to have its way in this case, the only lawyers before the Court will be those representing the Government. If the Government is to have its way, the only evidence available to the Court would be that cherry-picked by the Government, for the Government, from the universe of relevant servers slated to be wiped,” the firm argued.
“If the Government is to have its way, in sum, Megaupload will never get its day in Court and the case will effectively be over before it has even begun. Megaupload’s fate will have been sealed by virtue of an indictment and corresponding asset freeze executed without the benefit of any adversarial proceeding or opportunity to be heard.”
Separately, MegaUpload users' files will be preserved as interested parties bid to prevent their destruction.
CNet reported Friday that US District Judge Liam O'Grady appeared sympathetic toward the plight of MegaUpload's main host, Carpathia, which was cleared to destroy the files in January.
O'Grady asked the parties to work out a solution amongst themselves.
The Motion Picture Association of America originally asked the court to prevent the destruction of data in case its members opted to pursue civil action against MegaUpload. However, its lawyers clarified that it only wanted to ensure the copyright infringing content was not redistributed.