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KickassTorrents man “like a drug broker” of piracy, says US government

By | Published on Tuesday 8 November 2016

Kickass Torrents

The US government has responded to efforts by lawyers working for the alleged owner of KickassTorrents to have the criminal case against their client dismissed. United States Attorney Zachary Fardon rejects claims that Kickass man Artem Vaulin can’t be held criminally liable for the copyright infringement he enabled, likening the KAT website to a “flea market” and Vaulin himself to a “drug broker”.

As previously reported, Vaulin, who is Ukrainian, was arrested in Poland earlier this year at the request of the American authorities as the Kickass site was taken offline. Extradition proceedings are now underway, though legal reps for Vaulin are trying to have the case dismissed in the US courts, on the basis that the secondary or contributory infringement he may or may not be liable for is not a criminal matter under American law.

KAT, like most file-sharing apps and websites, did not itself distribute or host any copyright infringing content. Which is why file-sharing set-ups are usually sued for so called secondary, contributory or authorising infringement. But Vaulin’s legal reps argue that while the KAT operation may be liable for that kind of infringement in the civil courts, the Americans can’t use that liability to pursue a criminal case and extradition.

Fardon does not agree. He argues that when it comes to the charge of “conspiracy to commit copyright infringement”, the distinction between ‘direct’ and ‘secondary’ infringement is irrelevant. “A defendant is accountable for any act of reasonably foreseeable infringement committed by any co-conspirator that furthers the conspiracy”, he says.

And: “For the defendant to claim immunity from prosecution because he earned money by directing users to download infringing content from other users is much like a drug broker claiming immunity because he never touched the drugs”.

Fardon then argues that the defence in the case are down-playing the role KAT had in encouraging and enabling music and movie piracy.

Far from being a simple neutral search engine, he says, “they sought out infringing material and trumpeted that to their users, targeting the infringement-minded with rewards and honours for posting torrents for copyright infringing material in order to blatantly promote and encourage the availability of entire categories of infringing works”.

KAT, he continues, “enabled users to obtain copyrighted content from other users, including from the defendant’s own servers” and therefore “functioned like a (lucrative) flea market for infringing movies, television shows, video games, music and computer software”.

It remains to be seen how the US court now responds. Meanwhile efforts also continue in Poland on Vaulin’s part to argue against America’s extradition application.