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US prosecutors have warned that Megaupload users could start losing the data they uploaded to the company as early as this Thursday.

The US attorney's office had been granted search warrants for Megaupload data hosted on servers based in Virginia at Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications. In executing the warrants, prosecutors copied selected data from the servers, but they didn't physically confiscate any of them.

Now that the lawyers have served the warrants and taken the data they wanted, they can't continue to search the servers and have handed control of them back to Carpathia and Cogent, they said in a letter to the court filed on Friday.

Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken told the Associated Press that at least 50 million users had stored data with the company, including family photos and personal documents. Users weren't able to access the data throughout this month while the prosecutors held the servers.

The US attorney has also frozen all of Megaupload's assets so it's not able to pay Carpathia and Cogent for their hosting services.

Rothken said the company was working with prosecutors to try to ensure the data wasn't erased.

"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," he said.

The concern for the data isn't entirely altruistic, as Megaupload also wants access to the information to defend itself in the criminal case.

Although Megaupload is based in Hong Kong and its head honcho, German-born Kim Dotcom, is currently resident in New Zealand, the US prosecutors reckon they have a case based on the fact that some of its leased servers were in Virginia.

The attorney's office has charged seven men, including Dotcom, over illegal downloads of music, movies and other content. ®

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