Lawyers representing Artem Vaulin have filed their formal legal response to prosecutors’ allegations of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, among other charges. Vaulin is the alleged head of KickassTorrents (KAT).
KAT was the world’s largest BitTorrent distribution site before it was shuttered by authorities earlier this year. Vaulin was arrested in Poland, where he now awaits extradition to the United States.
“Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a July 2016 statement.
The defense’s new 22-page court filing largely relies on the argument that there is no such thing as secondary criminal copyright infringement. While secondary copyright infringement as a matter of civil liability was upheld by the Supreme Court in MGM v. Grokster in 2005, Vaulin and his associates have been charged criminally.
The brief’s author, Ira Rothken, who also represents Kim Dotcom in his ongoing Megaupload legal battle, has made similar arguments in that case as well. Dotcom has been fighting extradition from New Zealand since Megaupload was shuttered nearly five years ago. The German-born Dotcom remains on supervised release in his adopted country.
“The fundamental flaw in the government’s untenable theory of prosecution is that there is no copyright protection for such torrent file instructions and addresses,” Rothken argued in his Monday motion to dismiss the charges against Vaulin. “Therefore, given the lack of direct willful copyright infringement, torrent sites do not violate criminal copyright laws.”
In August, the Chicago-based prosecutors released a superseding indictment that names two additional co-defendants and fellow Ukrainians, Ievgen (Eugene) Kutsenko aka “chill” and Oleksander (Alex) Radostin aka “pioneer.”
Meanwhile, Vaulin has appeared before a Polish magistrate who denied his bail. He remains behind bars.
“The extradition procedures have formally been started by the US in Poland,” Rothken told Ars. “We are in a submissions or briefing period, and our Polish team is opposing extradition.”
Rothken also said that he has yet to be allowed to meet or speak directly with his client. For now, Rothken has been required to communicate via his Polish counterpart, Alek Kowzan.
“Maybe they are afraid that Artem’s extradition defense will be enhanced if American lawyers can assist in defending against the US extradition,” Rothken added.
No hearings before US District Judge John Z. Lee have been set.