The US Department of Justice has seized control of seven domain names associated with Kickass Torrents. KAT, as it is popularly refered to, happened to be the most visited torrent site in the world, even surpassing The Pirate Bay in 2014.
The owner has also been charged with copyright infringement allegations and money laundering by the law enforcement authorities who seized him.
Details about the Arrest and Seizure
Authorities say that 30 year old Artem Valuin from Kharkiv, Ukraine was arrested in Poland yesterday and that US would try to extradite him to America.
Artem is said to own and operate Kickass Torrents, a torrent portal which has, since its launch in 2008, allowed users to download TV shows, music, movies and games and other media via torrent files. The intellectual property damages for files hosted at KAT has been estimated to be worth around $1 billion.
Criminal Charges Against the Owner
According to the charges leveled against Artem, Kickass consistently listed movies that were not even out of the theatres yet, which were available for download via torrenting apps. The officials mentioned titles such as “Now You See Me 2,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Finding Dory” and “Indepence Day: Resurgence”.
The U.S Government has charged Artem Vaulin with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of copyright infringement.
He could go to jail for upto 5 years due to the copyright infringement charges and the money laundering charges can get him incarcerated for up to 20 years.
Copyright Infringement and Piracy
Chris Dodd, CEO and Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) said that,
“This criminal case is a major step to reduce illegal theft of creative content by large-scale piracy sites. Actions like these help protect the livelihoods of the 1.9 million hard-working Americans whose jobs are supported by the motion picture and television industry – and a legal market that generates $16.3 billion in exports for the U.S. economy.”
It should be noted that piracy itself can not be regarded as just theft of property. For example, if you steal someone’s sofa, you are stealing their property and causing damage but in this case you are actually copying someone’s sofa and giving it away for free. This doesn’t cause any direct damages, but it still causes the sofa maker to lose money due to losing sales (why buy it when you can get it for free?).
US law considers IP theft as illegal, hence the decision to prosecute Artem for running potentially the most popular destination to get free media over the internet.
YIFY, a popular releaser of movies, was also recently taken down. The man behind the YIFY handle was arrested. However,YIFY’s page still continues to operate under a different domain name. The same could happen in this case as well, but there is no way to confirm when it will happen.