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US Unveils Charges Against KickassTorrents, Names Two More Defendants (arstechnica.com) 110

A total of three men are said to be operators of file-sharing site KickassTorrents (KAT), according to U.S. prosecutors. Last month, federal authorities arrested the 30-year-old Ukrainian mastermind of KAT, Artem Vaulin, and formally charged him with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement. Two other Ukrainians were named in the new indictment (PDF): Levgen (Eugene) Kutsenko and Oleksander (Alex) Radostin. While only Vaulin has been arrested, bench warrants have been issue for the arrest of all three men. Ars Technica reports: "Prosecutors say the three men developed and maintained the site together and used it to 'generate millions of dollars from the unlawful distribution of copyright-protected media, including movies, [...] television shows, music, video games, computer software, and electronic books.' They gave out 'Reputation' and 'User Achievement' awards to users who uploaded the most popular files, including a special award for users who had uploaded more than 1,000 torrents. The indictment presents a selection of the evidence that the government intends to use to convict the men, and it isn't just simple downloads of the copyrighted movies. The government combed through Vaulin's e-mails and traced the bitcoins that were given to him via a 'donation' button."
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US Unveils Charges Against KickassTorrents, Names Two More Defendants

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is that the same as illegal hyperlinks?

    • You don't expect a judge to understand the details of "that computer stuff", do you?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I only use google to get torrents, can someone throw them in front of a judge please?

      https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=filetype:torrent+dvdrip+magnet

  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @07:57PM (#52772719) Homepage Journal
    Google is the biggest distributor of .torrent files I know of.
    • by BlackSabbath ( 118110 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @08:07PM (#52772759)

      Agreed. With the right search terms you don't even have to click through to the resulting page, you could just copy the magnet URL directly from the search summary.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We should probably ban HTML as all those nasty pirates sites use it.

      No HTML no pirate sites!

    • by PocketPick ( 798123 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @08:20PM (#52772841)

      There is a difference between providing a general purpose search engine that serves millions of legitimate needs (as well as a handful of illegitimate needs) and a site whose sole purpose is to provide people with easy access to electronic movies, music, games and other software that they would normally be required to purchase.

      That difference? Intent.

      I'm not saying that copyright law isn't broken, and certainly any service can be abused (including Google's search engine). But seriously...the organizational goals and company operations for Google and KickassTorrents are nothing alike.

      For a modern, well-functioning commerce and legal framework to work, law enforcement have to be able to distinguish between the two. It's not black and white.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 25, 2016 @08:33PM (#52772885)

        Oh please. YouTube is the #1 pirate site online. I can listen to just about every music file on there, in full, and can easily download it if I so choose. I can watch long scenes from movies and TV shows...in some cases, entire episodes and full movies. I can watch complete runs of video games. And best of all, Google isn't liable for any of it...they actually make the content holder have to sift through their site to find the content...and until then, they make money and KEEP THE MONEY from content deemed infringing.

      • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @08:40PM (#52772939) Homepage Journal
        A handful of illegitimate needs? Google is the largest search engine of .torrent files on the web. Hardly a handful. Plus if you do a video search they link to tons of videos that are infringing on copyright. They even provide video previews of the illegal material on the search page!
        • They also respond properly to DMCA takedown notices and remove any copyrighted work they are notified of. What point exactly were you trying to make? Do you think that Google fails to follow the letter of the law in some way and is somehow more responsible to the results of other people posting things?

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        Google filters out porn. Google does not filter out filetype:torrent [google.be]
        So if I want to open a torrent site, all I have to do is provide other things as well, and it becomes legal?
        The fact that Google has been in trouble because of how they handle copyright issues is most likely besides the point, I assume.

        • No, responding properly to DMCA takedown notices will make your site legal. Thumbing your nose at the notices however makes you responsible for the content of everything on your site.

          I don't understand why this silly notion that Google should be sued keeps coming up, there is a significant difference in the response a label gets from Google as from KAT.

      • "Intent" is difficult to demonstrate given that it lives in the minds of the accused. The website itself is based on content-agnostic algorithms. I'm sure it's true that it has a higher percentage of illicit use than google does, but that's probably true of Tor and VPN services as well. Would we be comfortable shutting those down on the same justification?

        Personally, I find it hard to find any "good intent" behind hosting, e.g., The Anarchists Cookbook. But it's well-established that that doing so is prot

    • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @08:21PM (#52772843)
      If anyone at Google gets arrested for linking to infringing content, it will be the end of the Internet as we know it.
      • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @08:41PM (#52772943) Homepage Journal
        The Internet as we knew it ended long ago. Eventually it will be locked up tighter than you-know-what.
      • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @10:49PM (#52773219)

        If anyone at Google gets arrested for linking to infringing content, it will be the end of the Internet as we know it.

        If anyone at Google gets arrested for linking to infringing content, it will be the beginning of civilization as we used to know it. You know, that short, golden age when corporate overlords were at least occasionally arrested and jailed for breaking the law, when the average citizen had at least a small say in the policies enacted by their elected representatives, and when corporations actually cared about what their customers thought because those customers were still capable of hurting them financially.

        Arrests at Google would be a possible sign of the turning of the tide; hope that 'government by the people, for the people' would stop being an empty, embarrassing slogan; perhaps a harbinger of the playing field at last being levelled, where there would be no distinction before the law between Artem Vaulin and Sergey Brin. Yeah, I know it will never happen, but it's nice to dream sometimes.

        BTW, it seems pretty likely that if Vaulin and company had managed to become sufficiently rich and well-connected before the heat was turned up on KAT, they'd be enjoying the kind of immunity and spurious respect that Page and Brin now take for granted. And PS, the Internet might be a more interesting, more vibrant, fairer place if the Googletards and slagvertisers and marketing wankers had left it the fuck alone.

        • Arrests for what? If the only thing that you hope can get a head of a corporation arrested is infringing copyright of another corporation, then it's just an example of a snake eating it's own tail.

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Friday August 26, 2016 @01:56AM (#52773523) Journal
        If the web 2.0 internet gets that boring, people will just return to IRC, BBS, point to point networks with servers, clients, and trackers i.e. systems with web 2.0 gui. Private invites via forums.
        • The early 2000s called and wanted their posting back. What you write there already happened a long time ago.

          No, we did not advertise it. We learned from our past mistake.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        You make it sound like that is a bad thing.

    • Cool. What's the site address?

  • by Gamer_2k4 ( 1030634 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @08:33PM (#52772887)
    What "millions of dollars" did the site generate? I can understand a claim of lost profits for the content owners, perhaps, but it's not like that translates into earned revenue for the site owners. And if they made money from paid memberships or ads or something, that's hardly illegal.
    • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @08:50PM (#52772967) Homepage

      The servers DO have to be paid for. Making millions in revenue is not the same as millions in profit. Not that that will be mentioned.
      How can we arrest people in the Ukraine? Ah, I remember. We sanctioned trade to the Ukraine until they signed our IP treaty.

      • by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @08:59PM (#52772979) Homepage

        They arrested this guy because he had a server located somewhere in the USA. The same way they went after Kim Dotcom.

        • by dissy ( 172727 ) on Friday August 26, 2016 @08:25AM (#52774325)

          They arrested this guy because he had a server located somewhere in the USA. The same way they went after Kim Dotcom.

          KAT had all their servers located in Canada-America and Sweden-America, while Kim Dotcom had his servers located in America-America.

          While it's been obvious from legal history over the past couple years that Canada and Sweden operate under American law only now, many people are not yet used to that and incorrectly assume those are other countries with their own laws.

          That confusion is what lead the parent poster to ask their question. It's just your explanation is equally as confusing of an explanation as it implies the servers were located within the old traditional US borders when that is obviously an incorrect statement.

          Instead you should have explained that the servers located in Canada are fully held under US law as if they were located somewhere in the USA.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        ... servers DO have to be paid for ...

        They went after Dotcom's house with 'international' (no such thing) civil forfeiture but not the server farm he used. I'm betting the same deal here. I mention server farms because the US DoJ will use civil forfeiture on the slumlord who housed a tenant smoking cannabis but not, to date, on a server farm providing an illegal service.

  • Google still remains the best torrent site ever. You can get any torrent on google and google is making money on ads that pay for those torrent search results.
  • A moment (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Let's all just take a moment to honor the people that sacrifice so much for us. Without them, there wouldn't be a one-stop shop for commercial free content that can be obtained while using a VPN service. As an added bonus, nobody knows when you pause, rewind, fast forward, adjust the volume etc.

  • by xession ( 4241115 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @09:15PM (#52773027)
    If you interact with US citizens, you are apparently subject to US laws. No borders. No sovereignty. You are a pawn in the global arena. Stepping outside your square will be dealt with swiftly and severely. Don't fuck with the US money /*holders*/ hoarders!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      If you interact with US citizens, you are apparently subject to US laws. No borders. No sovereignty. You are a pawn in the global arena. Stepping outside your square will be dealt with swiftly and severely. Don't fuck with the US money /*holders*/ hoarders!

      Ugh. While I agree we need some serious copyright reform, international trade wouldn't effectively exist without trade agreements, reciprocation, and extradition agreements. You can't function in an international exchange of goods, content, services, or whatever else, without sharing some basic rules. While you complain about this, it's likely you own a foreign car, buy cheap foreign goods, etc. And if any of those were defective or injured you, I'd bet you would want an avenue to be able to legally address

  • Jurisdiction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @09:50PM (#52773085) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand why someone in Ukraine is liable for violating the US's stupid copyright rules.
    • Re:Jurisdiction (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @10:59PM (#52773241) Homepage Journal

      The argument is that he had a presence in the US (server) which violated "US's stupid copyright rules". If I was in another country and remote controlled a drone in to the US and blew something up I would be violating US law. Yeah, it's a horrible analogy but it's about as close as you can get where you can visualize the argument.

      I don't think it's going to be an easy thing for the prosecutors to prove WHERE he violated US law but that is kind of not an issue any more. KAT is down and essentially gone. The message has been sent -- you dip your toe in the torrent waters above a certain level and your life will be turned upside-down.

      • by jdavidb ( 449077 )

        The argument is that he had a presence in the US (server)

        Ah, that's what I was missing, thanks.

        The message has been sent -- you dip your toe in the torrent waters above a certain level and your life will be turned upside-down.

        They are also close to sending the message that they intend to enforce their rules across the whole world. Which I guess accords with the rest of the US's imperialist message.

  • by Snufu ( 1049644 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @10:05PM (#52773113)

    Because we have solved crime and inequality in the U.S., our tax funded law enforcement and legal system can now focus its resources on foreign torrent sites, because they represent the next largest threat to everyday Americans.

    • Washington, D.C., is owned by Hollywood these days. Just think of all the resources that were spent on skanking Kim Dotcom. Sure he was a creep, but these ISIS folks are even more creepier. The government in the USA should have better focused those resources on ISIS. But the financial interests of Hollywood, and the politicians who they own decided otherwise.

  • Money laundering? At least pretend that the words mean something other than "and now we can get what we really want. "

  • by robcfg ( 1005359 ) on Friday August 26, 2016 @03:57AM (#52773707)
    No. And the more they push the less I'm buying. It's really that simple.
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday August 26, 2016 @05:01AM (#52773801)

      That doesn't even matter. What matters is the shareholder value. Allow me to explain.

      What's the value of a company? Well, mostly its assets. What's the assets of a company that has no real assets but only virtual ones, i.e. "IP"? That depends on how much they control that IP and its distribution. If the distribution of the IP is possible without them getting compensated for it, the essential value is zero.

      No, not in reality. In the heads of investors. Reality doesn't enter that equation.

      So you won't buy anything, neither will I and most likely the crap not being available on a torrent cannot even be measured let alone noticed by looking at the sales. That doesn't matter, though. What matters is that their IP retains its perceived value and thus the shareholder value stays up.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    was arrested because he was the wrong nationality in the wrong country.
    If he was Polish, Poland would never have extradited him.
    But he's Ukrainian, and Poles don't exactly have a favorable view on them.
    It's a good lesson for filesharers on minding your geo-politics in your business.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Eh, this isn't about combating piracy. It's about control over the available means of distribution. Attacking competing content delivery methods. Fighting piracy is just the socially acceptable face they put on it. When they shut down a file sharing server or torrent site, there's no distinction between legal or pirated files. They just want to make sure you have a harder time getting content from anyone but them.

  • The US Gubmint, striking yet another blow against internet freedom! Listen and hear, you poor and you workers of the world - you will NOT have access to the same cultural data as your betters, and Soviet America will use the violent coercive power of the imperial state to make sure of it.

  • and chased down by the government (rather than in civil court by those holding the copyright) but one never hears the same government actions against trademark violation?

I THINK THEY SHOULD CONTINUE the policy of not giving a Nobel Prize for paneling. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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