Torrent Files. Peer-to-peer file sharing.
KickassTorrents (KAT) was a peer-to-peer file sharing website founded in 2008. The site was a directory for torrent files and magnet links, which are essentially used to download data, including video and music. The founder and owner of the now closed-down site is 30-year-old Ukrainian national, Artem Vaulin.
Last year Untied States government charged Mr. Vaulin with running a website (KAT) that facilitated the illegal downloading movies, television shows, music and video games. Vaulin is charged with two counts of criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and one count of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Authorities estimate that he brought in between $12.5 to $22 million annually.
Vaulin was detained in Poland and is being held in jail. His attorneys are fighting his extradition to the United States and challenged the validity of his indictment, arguing in part, that their client never stepped foot on American soil.
On August 4th, a federal judge in Illinois ruled that the U.S. government properly indicted Vaulin. Judge John Z. Lee agreed that “as a general matter, the Copyright Act does not apply extraterritorially to reach acts of infringement that occur entirely abroad.” However, he went on to state that “but the core theory underlying the indictment is that Vaulin aided, abetted, and conspired with users of his network to commit criminal copyright infringement in the United States.”
The judge also went out to say that the indictment alleges that Vaulin made available and caused others to make available copyrighted content without any authorization, and that at least one of the numerous servers the website used was in Chicago, Illinois. The indictment alleges that Vaulin had servers in multiple countries and frequently moved his domain to avoid seizures and civil lawsuits.
Big copyright holders in the United States lauded the judge’s decision, hoping that at the very least this case may make foreign-based copyright infringers think twice about feeling safe from criminal charges. The illegal downloading and sharing of copyrighted material has been a long-standing problem for copyright holders since the advent of the internet.
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