Business News Digital Legal

US judge says Kickass criminal case should proceed

By | Published on Monday 7 August 2017


A US judge has declined to dismiss the criminal case against alleged KickassTorrents owner Artem Vaulin, ruling that the American government has a sufficiently solid case for the matter to proceed to trial.

As previously reported, Vaulin was arrested in Poland at the request of the US authorities just over a year ago, after which popular file-sharing hub KAT went offline. The KAT man has since been fighting extradition from Poland to the US to face charges of criminal copyright infringement.

In the US, where Vaulin is represented by lawyer Ira Rothken – better known for repping Kim Dotcom in the long-running MegaUpload case – the KAT owner’s legal team tried to have the entire case against their client dismissed.

Their core argument was that KAT could only be held liable for contributory or secondary infringement – ie facilitating the infringement of others – because Kickass never actually hosted any of the music or movie files its users shared, and was therefore not involved in primary copyright infringement.

And, Rothken reckons, secondary infringement is not a criminal matter under US law, meaning only civil litigation can be filed and, therefore, the criminal case should be dismissed.

But the judge considering the case in the Illinois federal court did not concur, at least that there were grounds for dismissal.

Noting the defence’s argument that if KAT could be liable for criminal copyright infringement so could any search engine, the judge wrote that “for present purposes the court need not decide whether and when a search engine operator might engage in conduct sufficient to constitute aiding and abetting criminal copyright infringement”.

Which is to say, that’s a debate to be had in a full court session, but those concerns are not, in themselves, grounds for dismissal. Needless to say, Rothken was critical of the judgement, telling Torrentfreak that his team was now considering possible routes of appeal.