This week KickassTorrents’ alleged owner Artem Vaulin asked the Illinois District Court to dismiss the criminal indictment and set him free.
The fundamental flaw of the case, according to defense lawyer Ira Rothken, is that torrent files themselves are not copyrighted content.
In addition, he argued that the secondary copyright infringement claims would fail as these are non-existent under criminal law.
District Court Judge John Lee previously questioned the evidence in the case and according to Rothken, it is certainly not enough to keep his client behind bars. This is also what he told the court during the hearing this week, stressing that torrents themselves are not copyrighted.
“We believe that the indictment against Artem Vaulin in the KAT torrent files case is defective and should be dismissed. Torrent files are not content files. The reproduction and distribution of torrent files are not a crime,” Rothken tells TF.
“If a third party uses torrent files to infringe it is after they leave the KAT site behind and such conduct is too random, inconsistent, and attenuated to impose criminal liability on Mr. Vaulin. The government cannot use the civil judge-made law in Grokster as a theory in a criminal case.”
Furthermore, Rothken argued that the US indictment is flawed because it fails to allege an actual criminal copyright infringement anywhere in the world, the United States included. The defense likened KickassTorrents to general search engines such as Google instead.
On the other side of the aisle stood US Department of Justice prosecutor Devlin Su. He urged the court to wait for the extradition hearing in Poland before ruling on the request, noting that Vaulin should come to the US voluntarily if he wanted to speed things up.
According to the prosecution, KickassTorrents operated as a piracy flea market, with an advertising revenue of about $12.5 million to $22.3 million. Comparing it with Google is nonsense, Su argued.
“Google is not dedicated to uploading and distributing copyrighted works,” Law360 quotes the prosecutor.
It is now up to the Illinois District Court to decide how to move forward. The defense is hoping for an outright dismissal, while the U.S. wants to move forward.
Meanwhile, over in Poland, Vaulin remains in custody after he was denied bail. Facing severe health issues, the Ukrainian was transferred from Polish prison to a local hospital a few weeks ago, where he remains under heavy guard.