A U.S. judge has declined to dismiss the criminal case against Artem Vaulin, the alleged mastermind behind the notorious peer-to-peer file sharing service Kickass Torrents.
Vaulin, 31, has been resisting extradition to the U.S. to face charges of criminal copyright infringement after he was arrested last year in his native Poland.
In the U.S., Vaulin faces two counts of criminal copyright infringement, as well as conspiracy charges relating to copyright and money laundering, though he’s kept his distance until now thanks in part to the efforts of his legal team, led by lawyer Ira Rothken, who represented Kim Dotcom in the ongoing MegaUpload case.
In a motion to dismiss the suit, his U.S. counsel argued that torrent sites like Kickass could only be held liable for contributory or secondary infringement and that its actions do not violate criminal copyright laws.
Kickass had argued it was merely a facilitator and not a repository of content, and that it operated like any other search engine.
Last Friday, however, U.S. District Judge John Lee said Vaulin had been properly charged with criminal copyright infringement. In a 28-page memorandum opinion and order, Judge Lee denied Vaulin’s motion to dismiss the indictment on various grounds.
Among his many conclusions, Lee disagreed with Vaulin’s argument that streaming cannot be prosecuted as a felony and that there is no crime in facilitating a torrent file. Vaulin’s argument “misunderstands the indictment” which “describes the torrent files merely as a means of obtaining the copyrighted movies and other media,” Judge Lee wrote.
The U.S. situation comes after Australia’s Federal Court issued a blocking order targeting several Kickass Torrent-related sites after a core of content providers, led by Universal Music, Warner Music, Sony Music and J Albert & Son, argued Kickass Torrents showed a “complete disrespect for music creators and the value of music.”
The case involving Vaulin will now move ahead. Vaulin remains in a Polish jail but his U.S. legal counsel is said to be disappointed with the outcome and his team tells Torrentfreak they’re considering other options of appeal.
The next step should be to see how the Polish court rules on the extradition request.