US confirmed today that it was seeking the extradition of the alleged boss of the world’s biggest online piracy site, Kickass Torrents, on charges of distributing over $1 billion worth of illegally copied films, music and other content. A day earlier, the US Justice Department unveiled a criminal complaint against Ukrainian national Artem Vaulin, 30, who was arrested in Poland and is wanted by American authorities for copyright infringement, money laundering and other charges.
Vaulin is alleged to own Kickass Torrents or KAT, which in recent years has eclipsed Pirate Bay and others to become the world’s biggest source of pirated media. Stephen Dreikorn, a spokesman for the US embassy in Warsaw, told AFP today via email: “We can confirm the United States government is seeking extradition of Artem Vaulin.”
The US criminal complaint said the website offers “a sophisticated and user-friendly environment in which its users are able to search for and locate content” which is protected by copyright.
KAT – which distributes pirated films, video games, television programmes and music – is estimated to be the 69th most frequently visited website on the internet, according to a Justice Department statement.
“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 Leslie 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 cyber criminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”
Polish border guard spokeswoman Agnieszka Golias told AFP today that Vaulin was arrested at Warsaw’s Chopin airport on yesterday “during an attempt to enter Poland”.
US officials are seeking to extradite Vaulin on charges filed in a federal court in Chicago, which ordered the seizure of one bank account and seven domain names associated with the file-sharing website.
The complaint said officials were able to track and identify Vaulin from records provided by Apple on his iCloud account.
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