Pay Me My Money Down: Contractors Could Wipe Megaupload User Data Thursday [Updated]

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Reuters TV / Reuters

The founder of file-sharing website Megaupload Kim Dotcom, a German national also known as Kim Schmitz, is seen at court in Auckland in this still image taken from video January 23, 2012.

Who knew the ‘D’ in D-Day stood for delete? Make that this Thursday then, when there’s a chance your Megaupload data — legal or no — could be obliterated, according to a letter filed last Friday by the feds.

The conundrum’s simple enough: You’re one of the world’s largest file sharing sites, you’ve paid for a bunch of third-party computers to host your data, but you’ve since been indicted for copyright infringement, your site’s been shutdown, and the funds you used to pay those third-party storage sites are on ice. What do you do?

(PHOTOS: The Larger-Than-Life Lifestyle of Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom)

There’s not much you can, and the third-parties in this case — storage companies Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications Group — can’t maintain all that data for free, meaning at some point it has to go. That could happen as early as Thursday, warns a letter filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to an AP story, the feds say they copied some of the data off the servers, but that’s it, and there’s no going back for seconds since the search warrants have already been executed. U.S. prosecutors say it’ll be up to Carpathia and Cogent to determine what happens next. To be clear: While the feds are warning the data could be deleted by  Thursday, Carpathia and Cogent haven’t yet said what they’ll do, or when.

Of course they could just strike a deal: “We’re cautiously optimistic at this point that because the United States, as well as Megaupload, should have a common desire to protect consumers, that this type of agreement will get done,” said Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken. There’s that, plus Rothken says Megaupload wants the data to help defend itself in the case (implying it believes much of the data’s legitimate).

I’m not sure it’ll do any good, but if you’re a Megaupload user with legal data at stake, you can contact Carpathia here and Cogent here.

UPDATE: Carpathia is disavowing ties to Megaupload, writing in a press statement:

In reference to the letter filed by the U.S. Department of Justice with the Eastern District of Virginia on Jan. 27, 2012, Carpathia Hosting does not have, and has never had, access to the content on MegaUpload servers and has no mechanism for returning any content residing on such servers to MegaUpload’s customers. The reference to the Feb. 2, 2012 date in the Department of Justice letter for the deletion of content is not based on any information provided by Carpathia to the U.S. Government. We would recommend that anyone who believes that they have content on MegaUpload servers contact MegaUpload. Please do not contact Carpathia Hosting.

MORE: FileSonic File-Sharing Service Next Domino to Fall After Megaupload Bust