WASHINGTON: If you use popular torrent site KickassTorrents or KAT to download pirated movies and games, then it's time you find some other source or start buying copyright stuff as US authorities seem determined to close down all illegal file sharing sites.
In a bid to crackdown on copyright infringement, US Department of Justice on Wednesday arrested the owner of KickassTorrents, one of the biggest torrent sites in the world and the website is now offline.
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Artem Vaulin of Kharkiv, Ukraine, was arrested from Poland and charged with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of criminal copyright infringement.
Polish border guard spokesperson Agnieszka Golias told AFP Thursday that Vaulin was arrested at Warsaw's Chopin airport on Wednesday "during an attempt to enter Poland".
US officials will seek to extradite Vaulin to face charges filed in a federal court in Chicago, which ordered the seizure of one bank account and seven domain names associated with the file-sharing website.
“Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cyber-criminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”
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“Artem Vaulin was allegedly running a worldwide digital piracy website that stole more than $1 billion in profits from the US entertainment industry,” said Department of Justice Executive Associate Director Edge.
According to the US Department of Justice, Vaulin allegedly owns and operates Kickass Torrents or KAT, a commercial website that enabled users to illegally reproduce and distribute hundreds of millions of copyrighted motion pictures, video games, television programs, musical recordings and other electronic media since 2008.
KAT is estimated to be the 69th most frequently visited website on the internet, according to a Justice Department statement.
KAT has moved its domains several times after being blocked in Britain, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia, according to the complaint, and has relied on a network of computer servers located around the world, including in Chicago.
Recently, the website allowed users to download illegal copies of recent hit movies such as "Captain America: Civil War," "Now You See Me 2," and "Finding Dory."
According to the Justice Department, KAT's website "purports to comply with the removal of copyrighted materials" but evidence showed it did not remove content requested by organizations such as the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and Entertainment Software Association.
The move comes with US officials in a long battle to extradite the head of Megaupload, another major piracy site shuttered by the FBI in 2012.
The head of Megaupload, known by the pseudonym Kim Dotcom, is free on bail in New Zealand pending the extradition effort, and recently vowed to revive his operations.
His extradition appeal is set to begin in the High Court in Auckland on August 29 and is expected to last four to eight weeks.
Pirate Bay meanwhile has been able to keep operating despite jail sentences handed down in Sweden against its founders, and the seizure of its web domains.
Authorities say they can seize or shut down illegal file-sharing sites but that the operators often reopen with servers in different jurisdictions.
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