The trial of Artem Vaulin alleged owner of KickassTorrents for copyright violations, money laundering and piracy starts in United Staes
Artem Vaulin, owner of KickAssTorrents (KAT), along with this team finally went to court this week against the U.S. Department of Justice for illegal distribution of digital content. Defense lawyer Ira Rothken asked the Illinois District Court to drop the case, as there is no real proof of actual criminal copyright infringement, so that could not be used as the basis for copyright charges.
For the uninitiated, FBI along with other law enforcement agencies had arrested Vaulin in Poland after a police raid. The FBI also confiscated the world’s most popular torrent website, Kat.cr during the raid. The arrest of Vaulim led to a big churning in torrents community with The Pirate Bay and Extratorrents emerging as most popular torrent websites. KickassTorrents has made a comeback with a new domain called katcr.co/new but it is yet to create any mark.
However, the U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor Devlin Su disagreed and said the site made millions every year by unauthorized sharing of digital content. Vaulin’s legal team is defending him on the grounds that there’s a major flaw in the case since torrent files themselves are not copyrighted content. Further, the secondary copyright infringement claims don’t even exist under criminal law.
“We believe that the indictment against Artem Vaulin in the KAT torrent files case is defective and should be dismissed. Torrent files are not content files. The reproduction and distribution of torrent files are not a crime,” Rothken told TorrentFreak. “If a third party uses torrent files to infringe it is after they leave the KAT site behind and such conduct is too random, inconsistent, and attenuated to impose criminal liability on Mr. Vaulin.”
The defense also describes that KAT is more of a search engine, like Google and not a source of piracy.
However, the prosecutor argued that Google’s services do not promote uploading and sharing of copyrighted digital content, unlike KAT which is a haven for such activities. Besides, the prosecution also argued that the torrent portal operated as a piracy flea market, raking in between $12.5 and $22.3 million in profit from advertising revenue.
After statements from both legal representatives, the Illinois District Court judge is yet to give a final verdict on the case.
To recall, Vaulin, was arrested back in August last year following which the site’s domain was seized, making the website redundant. He currently resides in Poland, where he was arrested and is awaiting his extradition trial. Vaulin was picked up by the authorities in mid-2016, after allegedly operating KickassTorrents for eight years. Following his arrest, alternate proxies were shortly taken down along with the main site. If Vaulin is sent to the U.S. to face legal action, he could be charged with copyright infringement, tax evasion and money laundering.