The US has seized the domain names of file-sharing website Kickass Torrents and sought the extradition of the site’s alleged operator, Artem Vaulin, to face criminal charges.
Kickass Torrents is currently being targeted by the Australian music industry under local anti-piracy laws. A group of music labels earlier this year launched court action seeking to have a number of Australian ISPs block access to the file-sharing site.
The US Department of Justice said that the site’s alleged operator, Ukrainian Artem Vaulin, had been arrested in Poland.
The US government has filed a criminal complaint in the US District Court in Chicago. Vaulin has been charged with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, to commit money laundering and criminal copyright infringement.
The US DOJ said it had also seized domain names linked to the site as well as a bank account. Kickass Torrents is currently unable to be accessed through its key domains.
A number of music labels and licensing organisation APRA AMCOS earlier this year applied to the Federal Court for an injunction to compel Telstra, Optus, TPG and Foxtel to block access to Kickass Torrents. It was the third site-blocking application made under anti-piracy laws introduced last year.
The first two applications for injunction were made by Foxtel and Village, targeting The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt and streaming site Solar Movie.
ISPs have not opposed the applications; however the rights holders and ISPs have clashed over what sort of order should be made by the court and the issue of costs for implementing the website blocks (as well as the costs of the legal proceedings). The judge presiding over the case has yet to issue a ruling.
A case management hearing for the application to block Kickass Torrents is due to be held tomorrow. Music Rights Australia, which has helped co-ordinate the application for injunction, indicated that there has not been a change in the status of the action following the US DOJ’s move against the BitTorrent site.
The US DOJ said that Kickass Torrents had estimated annual advertising revenue in the range of US$12.5 million to US$22.3 million, and an estimated net worth of greater than US$54 million. The site has been blocked by court order in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia, the DOJ said.
The full criminal complaint against Vaulin: