Kickass Torrents Gets The Megaupload Treatment: Site Seized, Owner Arrested And Charged With Criminal Infringement

from the because-of-course dept

So just as the US government itself is accused of being engaged in massive copyright infringement itself, the Justice Department proudly announces that it has charged the owner of Kickass Torrents with criminal copyright infringement claims. The site has also been seized and the owner, Artem Vaulin, has been arrested in Poland. As with the original Kim Dotcom/Megaupload indictment, the full criminal complaint against Vaulin is worth reading.

As with the case against Dotcom/Megaupload, the DOJ seems to ignore the fact that there is no such thing as secondary liability in criminal infringement. That's a big concern. Even though Kickass Torrents does not host the actual infringing files at all, the complaint argues that Vaulin is still legally responsible for others doing so. But that's not actually how criminal copyright infringement works. The complaint barely even shows how Vaulin could be liable for the infringement conducted via Kickass Torrents.

But, of course, that doesn't matter because the guy at Homeland Security Investigations (formerly: ICE: Immigrations & Customs Enforcement) just spoke to the MPAA and the MPAA said that Kickass Torrents had no permission to link to their content. Yes, link.
As part of the investigation, I have communicated with representatives of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) regarding this investigation. The representatives provided me with information the MPAA had developed about KAT, among other websites. The representatives stated that the MPAA closely monitors KAT and that a significant portion of the movies available on KAT are protected by copyright. The representatives also specified that the MPAA has not granted permission to KAT to index, link, frame, transmit, retransmit, provide access to, or otherwise aid or assist those who distribute and reproduce infringing copies of copyrighted motion picture or television content of MPAA members.
Here's the thing: most of those things listed above are not rights granted by the copyright act. The copyright act is pretty specifically limited to a few rights, including reproduction and distribution. But, again, note the games played in the complaint: "index, link, frame, transmit, retransmit, provide access to" don't directly infringe on the stated copyright exclusive rights (yes, there are some cases where some of the above may infringe on some of the exclusive rights, but it's not particularly cut and dry). So instead, the government tosses in this "otherwise aid or assist those who distribute and reproduce infringing copies of copyrighted motion picture or television content."

So, you see, once again, the government is creating a form of secondary liability for copyright infringement that does not exist in the law. That's a problem. Because that's not how criminal copyright law works. At all.

Furthermore, the complaint goes on about how KAT, as it calls Kickass Torrents, rejected DMCA takedown notices for a variety of reasons, but leaves out the fact that KAT is not an American company and is not under the jurisdiction of US laws. So I'm not entirely clear why US copyright laws apply here. The best they can do is note that they found a few servers that were apparently in Chicago.

The complaint spends lots of time on the fact that KAT makes a fair bit of money from advertising revenue. But, again, I'm not entirely clear how that's relevant to the claim of criminal copyright infringement. The implicit argument is clearly "people go to KAT to get infringing content, the site makes advertising from all that traffic, thus the revenue is ill-gotten gains." But... again that relies on the idea that KAT itself is engaged in criminal behavior. Creating a popular tool for finding content -- some of which may be infringing -- and then making money from advertising, are separate things. It seems wrong to make this weird if->then conditional assumption that just because the site made lots of money it was infringing.

No one is suggesting that Kickass Torrents was not regularly used by individuals to infringe on copyrights. It was. A lot. And you can argue how horrible that is and how it was killing Hollywood and all that -- but the specifics here do matter. The same arguments were made about the VCR for years. After all, the MPAA insisted that it was used exclusively to infringe on content for years until they finally realized that it was a good idea to release content for the home video market. And, again, the US government isn't allowed to make up criminal liability concepts that aren't actually in the law. They, and their supporters, of course will now argue that it's not about secondary liability, but about "aiding and abetting." But that argument doesn't fly either. The standards for aiding and abetting are much more involved -- and would require that the actual infringement be criminal. But that won't fly, because the individuals downloading via Kickass Torrents weren't violating criminal copyright law themselves.

In other words, the DOJ is trying to argue that helping a bunch of people engaged in civil copyright infringement magically turns into criminal aiding and abetting. But that's not how the law works.

Meanwhile, the DOJ's press release on this is filled with all the usual insane bluster:
"Copyright infringement exacts a large toll, a very human one, on the artists and businesses whose livelihood hinges on their creative inventions," said U.S. Attorney Fardon. "Vaulin allegedly used the Internet to cause enormous harm to those artists. Our Cybercrimes unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago will continue to work with our law enforcement partners around the globe to identify, investigate and prosecute those who attempt to illegally profit from the innovation of others."
Funny. Is he also going to charge the US Navy for its massive copyright infringement? Or is that not the kind of copyright infringement harm Fardon goes after?
"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 cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice."
The $1 billion of copyrighted materials is a nice touch, but again represents merely the estimated cover price, not any actual losses to the industry. Not that the DOJ wants to admit that. But the next guy is even worse, no longer just claiming that over $1 billion was distributed, but directly stating that Vaulin stole $1 billion.
"Artem Vaulin was allegedly running a worldwide digital piracy website that stole more than $1 billion in profits from the U.S. entertainment industry," said Executive Associate Director Edge. "Protecting legitimate commerce is one of HSI’s highest priorities. With the cooperation of our law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively bring to justice those who enrich themselves by stealing the creative work of U.S. artists."
Aren't law enforcement people supposed to actually know the law? There was no stealing. There may have been copyright infringement using the tool that Vaulin built, but that's not stealing.
"Investigating cyber-enabled schemes is a top priority for CI," said Chief Weber. "Websites such as the one seized today brazenly facilitate all kinds of illegal commerce. Criminal Investigation is committed to thoroughly investigating financial crimes, regardless of the medium. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to unravel this and other complex financial transactions and money laundering schemes where individuals attempt to conceal the true source of their income and use the Internet to mask their true identity."
Illegal commerce? It was basically a search engine for free content. What illegal commerce happened there?

Yes, yes, lots of infringement happened via the site. No one denies that. But having law enforcement folks stand up and make clueless statements like this suggest they don't even understand what Kickass Torrents did, and they just want to puff themselves up and look good for Hollywood.

Meanwhile: does anyone really believe that this move will cause anyone who used KAT to suddenly go back to purchasing movies?

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  • icon
    Spike (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 8:34am

    Well they don't even have to conceal the fact that they're just doing the MPAA's bidding, because clearly they didn't speak to anyone else on the matter that you know, might be less biased than the MPAA (of all else).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AJ, 21 Jul 2016 @ 8:37am

    Are people in the U.S. still using public tracker sites? Or did we just arrest someone for hosting a site outside of the U.S., who's users are mostly not U.S. citizens (not that it matters) take his property, and are going to force him to come to our country to face charges in our courts?

    This shit won't stop until some politicians child draws a Mohammad cartoon and gets dragged out of their townhouse in Florida to be stoned to death in Saudi Arabia. WTH are we thinking?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 8:44am

      Re:

      That escalated quickly!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        AJ, 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:32am

        Re: Re:

        Tell that to the guy in the U.K. that lost his kids and is serving a suspended sentence for comparing the Turkish Prez to a fictional character. Or Dot Com who given even a quarter of a chance the U.S. would have buried under the jail. More and more countries, especially the U.S., are reaching outside their own countries to silence people they don't like, or enforce their own ideas or laws. You think I escalated quickly? Give our Gov a little time..

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:11am

        Re: Re:

        What about Putin, is he escalating things too?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PgSX-WD96Q

        The U.S. does whatever they want whenever they want and they don't ever consider the possible consequences.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:11am

      Re:

      Not to worry, the leaders in Saudi Arabia have much more respect for the laws of other nations than we do in the US.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:59am

      Re:

      Vladimir Putin puts it best, so much of what the U.S. is doing all over the world can almost be considered an act of war (and often would be if it were another country doing it, especially if some other country were doing what we do to them to us) and Vladimir doesn't think it will end well for anyone. Though the media has been completely ignoring what he's saying.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        PRMan, 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:44am

        Re: Re:

        Putin can shut up until he fixes his own freedoms in his own country.

        He just outlawed every church that isn't Orthodox, so he's proven he's not really interested in human rights.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 8:43am

    In other words

    The united states has now come full circle and is trying to enforce its own arbitrary rules across the world. This is why we had the revolutionary war. Now we are attempting to make non citizens toe the line for operating legally. He stole nothing. He abetted no criminal lawbreaking. This whole thing is so clearly corrupt, that I want every lawyer attached to it to serve jail time and never be allowed to practice law anywhere in the world. The real crooks are the ones paying off the yesmen to get people arrested and property seized on no legal basis.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 8:49am

    Aren't law enforcement people supposed to actually know the law?

    Unfortunately, no.

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160601/07432834592/another-court-says-law-enforcement-officer s-dont-really-need-to-know-laws-theyre-enforcing.shtml

    It's got to be the only job where you can be completely ignorant about what you're supposed to be enforcing, and it's perfectly acceptable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 8:50am

    The fact that the charges don't line up with what's actually in the law doesn't matter really, as that would be distantly secondary at best. The purpose isn't so much to enforce the law regarding copyright infringement as to show what happens to those that annoy the USG and those buying politicians.

    Site destroyed, owner arrested, message sent.

    Much like MU winning the legal case would be something they'd like to be able to crow about, but they've already accomplished what they set out to do, and if all it cost them was some 'creative' interpretation of the law that's a price they're more than willing to pay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 12:26pm

      Re:

      MU case is actually a failure in this line of thought because Dotcom managed to get access to his funds and actually defend himself (while smartly building more money from new services). He is actually putting up a fight.

      I'm waiting to see the millions recovered from perviously closed and seized p2p services. Because there is none. TorrentFreak did a great job analyzing how much was going into the bitcoin wallets notorious piracy sites put up and I haven't seen a single one that got more than a few hundred dollars in YEARS and it's common knowledge by now that the ads that go in these sites are the trash of the trash and pay virtually nothing.

      So this guy will actually be royally screwed. Not because he is guilty of something for society has already given sharing a green light for years now. No, he will be royally screwed because he doesn't have the money to defend himself. Money wins.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 1:01pm

        They are counting on it.

        This is obviously the sacrifice of a scapegoat.

        It's also a test balloon to see if they can get away with it.

        If Dotcom wants to be noble as fuck he can supplement KTs legal war chest since a success will set an operational precedent.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonmylous, 21 Jul 2016 @ 8:51am

    Know the law?

    Of course they don't have to know the law now Mike. If cops who enforce the laws at the State level no longer need to know the laws to arrest you for breaking them, our Federal enforcement officers shouldn't have to either!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:20am

      Re: Know the law?

      It is worse, they do not have to consider which country you are a citizen of, and in which coutry you are residing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Zarvus (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 8:59am

    I realize that anyone can sue anyone for any reason (and does) in the US, but you'd expect the DOJ to set a better example in what cases it pursues and who reviews these cases to allow them to proceed to the point where the long arm of the US is used to arrest non-US citizens on foreign soil.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:06am

      Re:

      Ah, but you see Copyright, being The Most Important Thing On The Planet makes such trivialities like 'living in another country' and 'That's not what the law actually says' insignificant.

      No, The Almighty Copyright must be protected at all costs lest the very planet itself implode from the complete and utter death of creativity in all it's forms.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:25am

        Re: Re:

        "The Almighty Copyright must be protected at all costs"

        Damn right! How else are us Americans gonna make a living?
        When we manufacture so little we have no choice but to rely in intellectual property to prop up the economy.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          My inner pedant can't help but comment on this...

          The US is manufacturing more now than at any time in US history. What's changed is what we manufacture -- in the past, it was mostly consumer goods. Now, it's mostly big-ticket things like supercomputers, very large machinery, etc. We still outproduce every other nation. The next largest producer is China. According to 2010 figures, China produced about $1.5 trillion worth, and we produced about $2.1 trillion worth.

          That said, the number of manufacturing jobs has fallen from about 19.5 million in 1980 to around 11.5 million in 2010.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:07am

    Irrelevant

    In other words, the DOJ is trying to argue that helping a bunch of people engaged in civil copyright infringement magically turns into criminal aiding and abetting. But that's not how the law works.

    Law enforcement requires the law like a butterfly requires butter. Just ask Kim Dotcom.

    And they follow the law like a climber follows a route. As long as you stay within arm's reach of the bolted line (and that includes "dynamic moves" where you completely leap off and regain ground later) it is considered a successful ascent.

    Only snails need to cover all the ground. So what if there are a few logic leaps? That's an important skill if you want to get far. And nobody's logic leaps are larger than that of U.S. law enforcement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:11am

    The government should just say that "the terrorists" are also using torrents, then instead of being hollywood's lackeys, they can tell everyone they're actually fighting the war on terror and still feel like the big heroes they desperately want to be (judging from the chest-pounding in the quoted statements).

    Also, since secondary liability is being created here, isn't Google next in line? I mean, if it weren't for Google letting me search for torrent sites that let me search for torrents, there would be no infringement to begin with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris Brand, 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:21am

    Profit margin

    I knew the MPAA had a decent profit margin, but had no idea it was close to 100%:
    "unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials" - so retail price > $1b
    "stole more than $1 billion in profits" - and it's all profit.
    Really cheap servers and connectivity, perhaps ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:27am

    Just as well that Executive Associate Director Edge works for HSI rather than in the private sector...

    "that stole more than $1 billion in profits from the U.S. entertainment industry"

    ... if he can't distinguish between gross revenue and profits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:45am

    I have two questions:

    1. Why does Homeland Security have anything to do with copyright?

    2. What impact is this going to have on people downloading?

    The answers to me are: 1. The entertainment industry has WAY too much influence in government and 2. None.

    So thank you, government, for wasting probably millions in taxpayer dollars which have purchased us exactly nothing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:50am

      Re:

      Apparently they've had this authority for quite a while now, but seems like a trivial use of resources for such a department IMHO. https://www.quora.com/U-S-Department-of-Homeland-Security-When-did-the-DHS-start-to-become-involved- in-copyright-enforcement

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 12:11pm

        Re: Re:

        The MPAA and other media related industries have been lobbying the government for so long, that they now control part of it. The justice part of the DOJ now stands for billionaires demanding people stop making copies of the stuff they paid for already. They do not want you to have copies of your own works. The government has been twisted to represent the 1% and inflate their importance far above the remaining 99%.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 1:08pm

          In the Dotcom raid the ICE thugs were clearly MPAA mercenaries.

          They even raided Dotcom's house for the show -- it's not like Kim was evasive or unpredictable.

          Now it's an established trend. US law enforcement agents can turn into mobster mugs when the price is right.

          And big media is so very, very rich.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 6:23am

            Re: In the Dotcom raid the ICE thugs were clearly MPAA mercenaries.

            ...can turn into mobster mugs when the price is right.

            Can turn into? I'm pretty sure that's the default mode these days.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:51am

    Setting a precedent

    As absurd as this story is, I hope other countries are watching it since it sets a precedent:
    If the US can apply its copyright laws in Poland and arrest a Polish citizen, why can't China apply its censorship laws in the US and arrest a US citizen? Or better yet, why can't Iran apply it's Muslim/ Sharia laws in the US and start arresting US citizens?
    Where does this kind of international law end?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:02am

    From what I read KAT was just a search engine, no tracker, no hosting.

    If they use US law against the site (owner) wouldn't the "you are not responsible for what user upload to you site" apply too?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:46am

      Re:

      cda 230 specificly exempts Intellectual property disputes. For Copyright, a similar, but less effective safe harbor was established in the DMCA. One of the key assertions in the lawsuit is that KAT ignored the DMCA. Of course, not hosting any content, there was nothing to remove, and given no law actually requires the delisting of links they shouldn't be charged, but DHS is fucked up that way.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:48am

      Re:

      What's missing from this entire article and comment section is that they have evidence that he uploaded much of the copyrighted material to the site himself.

      I think this one is not as flimsy as Kim Dotcom. Maybe they've learned from past mistakes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        James Burkhardt (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:55am

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, two things, one thats the first time ive heard that claim, including the linked original annoucement, so no wonder this doesn't show up in discussion.

        Two, he did not upload any infringing content. He had links, to torrents, that may have themselves been infringing. That is still secondary copyright infringement. And there remains a question as to why the supposed ignoring of DMCA notices is a big thing. The DMCA does not require the Delisting of links no matter what google started doing. Everything ive heard, and why everyone compares this to Megaupload, is that their case hinges on the ignoring of DMCA notices, not the upload of content.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 12:13am

        Re: Re:

        "Maybe they've learned from past mistakes."

        Apparently not. If they had, they would ensure the exact information they've collected and the specific reasons why this is a criminal charge are well known, as well as the reasoning for arresting a foreign national in a foreign soil for breaking US laws.

        But, that's not happened so they are not getting support from a lot of people who should be supporting their cause. Yet again, most people have no problem with people actually profiteering from piracy being caught and prosecuted, it's the overreach, flimsy evidence and collateral damage that most object to. The impression is that US authorities don't care how many rights they step over so long as some supposed profit for a corporation is protected.

        It wasn't just the flimsy case against Dotcom that was so objectionable, nor the shutting down of a service that was used for all sorts of legal activities with no recourse for users. It was the police raid on foreign soil at the behest of a private business, seizure of the evidence he needed to defend himself and attempt to extradite him to a country he'd never visited to appear in front of what seemed to be a kangaroo court. Dotcom is not a likeable man, but the actions of US authorities turned him into a folk hero for people who otherwise despised him, so badly were his rights respected.

        Even if none of those things are true in the current case, if they had learned from past mistakes they would know not to make it look like the same things again. They failed on a number of points.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 4:54am

      Re:

      The Torrent tracker file is like a key. Whoever sells the key is guilty.

      "From what I read KAT was just a search engine, no tracker, no hosting."

      The famous loophole!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 5:07am

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, that damn loophole where if you're not committing a certain crime you shouldn't be prosecuted for it! Damn reality and the way it makes you address the people perpetrating a crime rather than the nearest convenient target!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2016 @ 2:32am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's even worse, you're calling to get KAT users arrested instead of KAT owner.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 24 Jul 2016 @ 8:21am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Wait, what? It's worse to punish those actually responsible for infringement rather than the person who just owned/ran the site that it happened at?

            That's not worse that's logically sound, if someone is breaking the law you go after them, not a third-party only lightly involved, unless you're just looking for an easy win/target.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2016 @ 5:42pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You'll notice that copyright enforcement has never been good at going after the right person. First they went after downloaders until it was argued that they weren't cutting things off at the source, then they claimed to be going after uploaders - but continued going after the small fry under their shoddy "making available" logic.

              They go after the easy targets because it's profitable for even less work.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                That One Guy (profile), 24 Jul 2016 @ 6:33pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                When the law has absolutely no real penalty for false accusations when it comes to copyright, and making sure that you have the right target takes time and money, it's not surprising that those out 'enforcing copyright' would range from slightly to extremely sloppy in picking targets.

                Why spend a bunch of resources narrowing down the potential guilty suspect(s) from a group of ten when you can just accuse all ten in the hopes that the guilty party is in the group?

                When it comes to copyright trolling especially there is a very high incentive not to care about accuracy, as the aim is not to stop infringement it's to profit off of accusations of it. Innocent or guilty, all that matters is how many people they can get to settle and avoid a costly court battle defending themselves, which means the more names they can get the better.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:27am

    When is Google being raided for allowing torrent searches? Same thing...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Indy, 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:48am

    Apple?

    The real issue here is Apple and Facebook gave up this information and content on the user willingly. What happened to their stance of protecting their users?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:55am

    Amazed it took as long as it did to zap this guy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 11:09am

    Is there a kickstarter for his defense? I'd love to give some cash to that

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 11:31am

    Oh, wahwahwah...

    You might be able to play the secondary infringement card if a small number of links on KAT had been pirated material. You might even have been able to play it if say, 20% of the links were pirated material.

    However, reality is different. Almost every popular torrent listed on the site was pirated. TV shows and such were sorted into special pages with information provided, which clearly showed that the site owners and maintainers knew what was on their site.

    It's also clear that the guy was selling advertising on the site knowing that the attraction was piracy, and was charging more for popular pages. Knowing the material was pirated, knowing that people are coming because they can get illegal content, and selling ads based on this a direct infringement situation. They don't have to actually rip of the content or host it, the only have to profit from it.

    Put it another way: Do you honestly think that KickAssLegalSoftwareDownloads would have been able to collect millions in ad fees?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 5:43pm

      Re: Oh, wahwahwah...

      Do you expect a surge in DVD purchases?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 10:02pm

      Re: Oh, wahwahwah...

      Do you really think anyone will respect copyright (more) because of this shenanigans?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 9:30am

        Re: Re: Oh, wahwahwah...

        As for you two...

        "Do you expect a surge in DVD purchases?"

        Your answer is here:

        https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160708/18024234925/as-uk-piracy-falls-to-record-lows-govern ment-still-wants-to-put-pirates-jail-10-years.shtml

        As piracy becomes less attractive and the legal services become more attractive... and if the pirate versions are harder to reach and harder to use, you can guess the rest.

        "Do you really think anyone will respect copyright (more) because of this shenanigans?"

        I am betting that more than a few people will consider getting out of the business of selling downloads. I am thinking that having pirate links a LITTLE harder to get to make slightly change the flow of the tide. Think of it as a butterfly effect thing, except of course this is just about the biggest butterfly of them all.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Jul 2016 @ 8:50pm

          Re: Re: Re: Oh, wahwahwah...

          You mean the article where you remarked that a reduction in piracy based on the industry's own numbers meant that harsher punishments had to be included. Right...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 12:21am

      Re: Oh, wahwahwah...

      "You might be able to play the secondary infringement card if a small number of links on KAT had been pirated material."

      Can you perhaps cite the part of the law that states a percentage of links that need to be infringing in order for that not to applicable?

      "Knowing the material was pirated, knowing that people are coming because they can get illegal content, and selling ads based on this a direct infringement situation"

      Citation for the applicable law? Apologies for not believing the bare assertions of a proven liar, but that's the hole you've dug for yourself.

      "Put it another way: Do you honestly think that KickAssLegalSoftwareDownloads would have been able to collect millions in ad fees?"

      CNet seems to do OK, as does Sourceforge and a number of other free software repositories. I don't know figures for ad income from those sites off the top of my head, but if your implication is that it's impossible to run a free-to-end-user software download site providing software free of charge, reality disagrees with you.

      Do you have any defence for your claims, or are you as ever talking out of your ass and creating a fictional reality where you can attack this site for imaginary indiscretions?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 4:36am

        Re: Re: Oh, wahwahwah...

        I did not download Ninja Turtles from KAT. I was on KAT looking for royalty free cute puppy videos. I swear.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 5:04am

          Re: Re: Re: Oh, wahwahwah...

          What does that have to do with my comment? Don't say you're the kind of idiot who thinks that wishing the law to be applied correctly, or arguments to be based in reality, means that I must be a pirate or otherwise support it?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 9:25am

        Re: Re: Oh, wahwahwah...

        "Can you perhaps cite the part of the law that states a percentage of links that need to be infringing in order for that not to applicable?"

        There is no hard and fast number. It's a question of inevitable knowledge. If your site is entirely nothing but likes to pirated material, it's hard to deny that you know it. Heck, all you had to do was look at their most popular download list, and you would see. I am sure that the site admins did that regularly. For that matter, in selling advertising for high rates, I am sure they were very much aware which pages and which downloads were generating the most attention, traffic, and therefore profit.

        if those top files had all been unix distributions and free android apps, then they might have some deniability.

        "Citation for the applicable law? Apologies for not believing the bare assertions of a proven liar, but that's the hole you've dug for yourself."

        Paul, I cannot and will not spend all the time required to teach you the basics of criminal conspiracies. Knowledge of and profiting from a crime is in itself a crime. Selling ad space on pages full of pirate downloads - knowing fully well that they are pirated material - creates that basic conspiracy.

        "CNet seems to do OK, as does Sourceforge and a number of other free software repositories."

        You can check Alexa to see the deal. Kat dot CR was ranked in the top 20 websites in the world. CNET as a whole was around #120, but downloads only account for about a third of their hits. So there is a major order of magnitude thing at play here.

        Just as importantly, there are literally hundreds or thousands of torrent search sites, including kat clones and mirrors. Their actual traffic position was much more likely on the edge of top 10. CNET is an exceptional case, a rare site indeed. There are only a very few sites in that marketplace (like Tucows), and otherwise few get involved.

        "Do you have any defence for your claims, or are you as ever talking out of your ass and creating a fictional reality where you can attack this site for imaginary indiscretions?"

        Actually, your assertions seem to be the sort of crap you always come up with, trying to poke holes and ignoring the proverbial elephants in the room. Perhaps it would be to your benefit to read the criminal complaint and actually try to understand it (you can use the dictionary for the bigger words, if that will help).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Jul 2016 @ 8:53pm

          Re: Re: Re: Oh, wahwahwah...

          So in other words based on your say so. How'd that go again? Otis Wright is still in his line of work while John Steele's appeal fell into the shitter, and the same can be said of Perfect 10. It's almost like your track record has been consistently poor or something.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 26 Jul 2016 @ 12:04am

          Re: Re: Re: Oh, wahwahwah...

          "There is no hard and fast number. It's a question of inevitable knowledge."

          I'm still not seeing a citation, only a change in the parameters of your claims. I wonder why.

          "Paul, I cannot and will not spend all the time required to teach you the basics of criminal conspiracies. "

          You have enough time to write paragraph after paragraph of personal attacks, unsupported theories and outright fiction, day after day, month after month. Why not spend the time writing honest comments with citations supportable evidence? There must be reason why you spout theories like the ones you do, many of which are obvious fictions, and it's not because you lack the time to back your claims up.

          "You can check Alexa to see the deal"

          Why Alexa? What does an Alexa rank have to do with the fact that you made an assertion that was easily proven wrong by simply looking at some famous free software sites?

          "There are only a very few sites in that marketplace"

          Yet, in the comment I responded to, you implied that none would exist. Now it is possible but might be hard? It's a mature marketplace that's gravitated toward some major players, like all mature marketplaces do? Strange that you'd move the goalposts like that. Almost as if you were being deliberately dishonest...

          "ignoring the proverbial elephants in the room"

          Such as? It's interesting that you still insist on making bare, unsupported assertions in response to people noting that you only ever make unsupported assertions.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2016 @ 10:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Oh, wahwahwah...

            Why not spend the time writing honest comments with citations supportable evidence?

            That obviously wouldn't fit his agenda.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 11:31am

    "Investigating cyber-enabled schemes is a top priority for CI,"

    Really?
    How many cyberstalkers have you stopped?
    How many ransomware groups have you broken up?
    How many producers and distributors of child porn have you shut down? (Catfishing the pathetic schlub in his basement for possession doesn't count.)
    How many DDoS extortion gangs have you arrested?
    How ya coming with that SWATting problem?

    No, no, I understand. Media billionaires and rich movie stars possibly losing out on that last million dollars is far more important than real hurt being visited on real people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 6:33am

      Re:

      "All of the above actions tend to be restricted to individual members of the public without large bank accounts, and therefore don't count. Hollywood and the music recording reps however are constantly informing us that piracy costs rich people quadrillions of dollars ever minute, and since it's affecting rich people it absolutely counts."

      -Hollywood's best buddies

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 12:02pm

    The dmca doe,s not apply to websites or companys outside the us ,its a us law .
    American companys may apply it so as not to get sued
    by record companys even if they own websites or service outside the us .
    The doj is ruthless ,it has to somehow turn this into a
    criminal case in order to get an eu citizen extradited to
    the us .
    A uk citizen was not extradited to the usa a few years ago
    for hacking as the uk court considered it would be overly cruel punishment for him to be sent to a us prison for
    hacking a us based company.
    There are many things legal in the uk that are not legal in the us ,
    eg selling beer to an 18 year old man.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 12:15pm

    This is very Mobster.

    Doesn't this sound totally like a maneuver from The Godfather? Can we not hear the mandolins?

    They didn't organize crime, organized agencies just went criminal.

    And now they're flagrantly ignoring the order they were sworn to protect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 12:17pm

    Damned if you comply with the dmca (KAT did remove torrents upon request) and damned if you don't. Very fair.

    No wonder people are losing all respect for copyrights.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 2:08pm

      Re:

      Except that they're saying he didn't comply- that he was requested to pull a bunch of stuff and never did. He didn't need to follow the DMCA, but ignoring requests to pull stuff led to the charge of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 3:12pm

        Re: Re:

        "ignoring requests to pull stuff led to the charge of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement."

        If that actually led to those charges, then I call foul. The repercussion should be that the site loses safe harbor protection from charges that were already in play, not that it would lead to new charges.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 3:47pm

          The Dotcom case was / is justice theater...

          ...I don't see how or why the KT affair would be any different.

          Essentially we have some pissy nobles wanting someone to suffer so they arranged it. It's good to be the king.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:19pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I just don't think the DMCA or safe harbor mattered here; I think the Berne Convention was probably enough. The guy appeared to be profiting handsomely from mass infringement that he was completely aware of, and apparently encouraged.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 12:33pm

    I am curious how much the DHS and other law enforecment agencies are being bribed with to do stuff like this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Arne Babenhauserheide, 21 Jul 2016 @ 12:39pm

    the “start to purchase” trap

    to suddenly go back to purchasing movies?


    Careful: You’re walking into their trap. Numerous studies showed that people who get movies via filesharing are already the top customers. So the people who used KAT won’t “go back to purchasing”. Rather they will either keep purchasing movies — or stop.

    The correct question would be: Meanwhile: what do you think how many people will stop buying movies, seeing how they are called criminals all over again and seeing how even people in foreign countries are attacked for providing a level of convenience the media companies fail to provide?

    Or just because they lose interest in the media genre.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 1:56pm

    I really hope that if he is extradited and tried he gets a good judge that understands what is going on, and he gets off. That would help quite a bit with this crap.

    I also think it would be in Kim Dotcoms best interest to help pay for legal help. If Vaulin can get off it could set a good precedent for Kim.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 2:52pm

    We busily built a case against some guy in Poland because his actions, we are told, harmed hollywood.
    Meanwhile police officers are still shooting people & not having to file reports with us as required by law.

    Any questions?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    vgiannell5 (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 3:09pm

    "Does anyone really believe that this move will cause anyone who used KAT to suddenly go back to purchasing movies?"

    Probably not. Instead, KAT users will find alternatives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 3:54pm

      i may go back to not watching movies at all.

      My consumption of movies is pretty scant as it is. Cinemaplexes are too expensive and stobing with adverts to suffer, and Youtube personalities produce quality (if lower budget) entertainment.

      Frankly, movies and music in the mainstream are getting formula again like the 80s. A Hollywood blackout might serve.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2016 @ 3:52pm

    and we'd like to thank FB and apple for their extraordinary effort in helping us resolve this.
    -govt

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 21 Jul 2016 @ 4:59pm

    Hollywood to shareholders: Everything's great! Look at all this money coming out of our asses!

    Hollywood to government: Save us from the Interwebs or we'll go out of business and America will be fucked!

    Nothing like having it both ways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon, 21 Jul 2016 @ 9:02pm

    Important Update About Kickass Torrents

    Checkout https://kat.am – fast & working proxy with latest torrents.

    Long live KickassTorrents, Long live Freedom !

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jeff, 21 Jul 2016 @ 11:10pm

    Re:

    https://kat.al/

    This is the new address of Kickass torrents. They are using different proxy servers. You can find all the latest content on this site. You can see change in their domain name, that is because this domain is getting operated from a different country. Finally, it doesn’t matter whether Artem Vaulin is present or not.. Torrenting MUST Continue!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 12:48am

    Did he or did he not know that KAT lined up boatloads of infringing content? How is he going to plead that?

    Even though KAT did not host on its servers the torrents it did link to it knowingly.

    Torrent is a good way to share but what a particular torrent pulls should be in question here. If its the new free distro its ok, if its the unreleased Catwoman movie then its not.

    Online crimes like theft always get overlooked on technicalities. Honestly, that should change.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Manok, 22 Jul 2016 @ 4:28am

    Back to pur..pur..pffff movies?
    No, fuck... back to using TPB...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 4:32am

    Is piracy a crime? Why???

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 6:00am

    can a DMCA-compliant torrent site *EVER* be 'compliant' enough?

    A big complaint about KAT was that on many popular titles, KAT would remove torrents within a few hours of being posted. It seemed like the site must have had some sort of direct auto-deletion setup with copyright police, because many things were so often taken down with lightning speed.

    Also, the site's search function had many words banned (including many common non-infringing words) so you had to use Google to find many titles on KAT. (but then, the torrents would ususally be deleted by the time Google crawled the site)

    This should serve as a lesson to all torrent site owners, that bending over backwards to please copyright enforcers achieves nothing whatsoever, and that they'd be no worse off by going full-on Pirate Bay and simply ignoring (or better yet, mocking) copyright demands.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 6:41am

      Re: can a DMCA-compliant torrent site *EVER* be 'compliant' enough?

      No, it is not, and never will be enough. So long as it's even theoretically possible to use something for copyright infringement you'll have people claiming that not enough has been done and clearly it's only purpose is to enable or facilitate infringement.

      Have a search engine for your service? You're enabling people to try to find infringing files.

      Don't have a search engine for your service? You're simply trying to hide all the infringing files.

      As you say, whether a site bends over backwards or not they're still treated the same, so they really have no incentive at all to play nice and go out of their way to be 'helpful'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spike (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 6:47am

    Well Google is running into the same problems, bending over backwards but its still never enough. The only difference is having what is essentially an infinite bank account that the MPAA has to think twice before going the legal route, hence their recent attempts to bribe AG's and politicians to do their bidding.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Monday (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 9:38am

    Dotcom

    We've seen how this has played out over in Kim Dotcom land. And with the sprouting of new Pirate Pirate sites (ie. YiFY and KAT), let's all keep our fingers crossed for the MPAA, RIA, and all the Film companies continue spending record amounts, of their "hard-earned" profits, on more and more futile lawsuits. The more they spend, the more they lose, and eventually, they'll come to the realization that it truly is futile.

    My one concern is that Lawyers are taking this fight up ad nauseum, because they see it as a way to make their bank statements look healthy; they are not waiting for instruction handed down, but just staring the suits, and we can only hope that this is just as expensive and costly - time and staff - for them as well. Now that search engines don't have to, or are not responsible for the content of their searches, we, hopefully, are going to see the above mentioned lawyers going after smaller and more fishes that, in the end, will put them at the counters of Chick-fil-A's and greeting Wal-Mart customers. Let's hope it costs them this much for being Shakespearean in their litigious efforts.

    We don't need a wall. we need Lawyers to get more frivolous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 22 Jul 2016 @ 9:51am

    In other words, the DOJ is trying to argue that helping a bunch of people engaged in civil copyright infringement magically turns into criminal aiding and abetting. But that's not how the law works.

    "We have altered the definition of the law. Pray we do not alter it further."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ahh, nussin, 22 Jul 2016 @ 12:33pm

      Re: FTFY

      "We have altered the definition of the law. Pray we do not alter it further."

      "We have altered the definition of the law. As 'prey', we do not alter it further."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 11:48am

    Who cares what the law actually says

    when you can just make up your own?

    Also, I hope someone is taking names of the government agents involved and making a list. Accountability can be a bitch when your immunity wears off. "Was following orders" is no excuse either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Captain of his own starship, 22 Jul 2016 @ 12:28pm

    Illegal commerce? It was basically a search engine for free content. What illegal commerce happened there?

    Internet free range of old MEET Internet of modern age, where we connoiseurs and collectors of free content no longer matter. The lawyers invaded the vast galaxy of commercialism and of course they are working for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2016 @ 7:38pm

    ..."that does not exist in the law"..."KAT is not an American company and is not under the jurisdiction of US laws. So I'm not entirely clear why US copyright laws apply here."...

    When men with guns show up and haul you off on threat of death, none of that really matters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2016 @ 7:14am

    Read the complaint. Legal bs of the highest order. Starting with jurisdiction in Illinois. They should have indicted ham sandwich instead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 24 Jul 2016 @ 1:20pm

    Welcome to the The United States of Hollywood

    Just a guess of course, but methinks this be the first shot in the war to make Canada change its laws to better suit Hornywood's copyright law control.

    After all, since thye're making up dollar numbers to claim as infringement-based revenue loss, imagine the amount of imaginairy dollars the MPAA pretends it loses to Evil Canadian Infringers every year!!!

    I think this is just the MPAA demanding - through its corporate subsidiary, the American Department of Justice - that Canada obey the demands of its southern 5 Eyes partner, and change its laws, so Hollywood can start suing Canadians for the big bucks too.

    If you can only make massively expensive shitty films that only sell well when nobody knows how bad they are, and its obvious that little startups can make better films and that your days are numbered as a gateway controller, its always nice to have a little nest egg stashed away, like say a few thousand copyrights that can make Hollywood the future's biggest US Copyright Troll.

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    LanceJZ (profile), 25 Jul 2016 @ 8:39am

    KAT lives again.

    Did anyone notice Sunday that KAT was back up? Yeah, so that worked so well in doing nothing but making ICE look like tools.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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