By Jeremy Pelofsky
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Thursday asked federal prosecutors and lawyers for the Megaupload.com file-sharing service to allow users who uploaded material to retrieve it as long as it was not copyrighted material.
The group, which advocates for Internet privacy and digital rights, sent a letter on behalf of one user asking "that all concerned work together to make sure innocent users are returned their legal property."
"We are hopeful that our client and other third parties can obtain access to their material without resorting to legal action, but if that is not the case, we intend to take the necessary steps to ensure the return of their materials," said Cindy Cohn, legal director and general counsel for EFF.
A copy of the letter was sent to the judge in Virginia overseeing the case, U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady.
Megaupload and its senior executives were indicted last month on charges that it was peddling copyrighted music, movies and television shows, raking in millions of dollars from advertising and subscriber fees.
Prosecutors warned last week that one of the companies that hosted the Megaupload site and material was considering erasing the material this week, but the company has since decided against it for now.
"Carpathia Hosting has no immediate plans to reprovision some or all of the Megaupload servers," the company's chief marketing officer, Brian Winter, said in a statement on Wednesday. He said if that changes, the company will post notices on its websites, www.carpathia.com and www.megaretrieval.com.
A lawyer for Megaupload has defended the website as an online storage service and said that it made efforts to take down copyrighted material when the service learned about it. Prosecutors argued that the site failed to do so and encouraged uploading of popular content.
"We will give careful and thoughtful consideration to any reasonable and detailed proposal by Mega's counsel that addresses the practical and technical issues for the court," said Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr.
Megaupload's assets have been frozen so "ultimately, it is the court that will decide what is appropriate and whether any funds will be released to carry it out," he said.
The case is USA v. Kim Dotcom et al, No. 12-cr-3, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
(Reporting By Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)