DOJ: Online Video Pirate Behind KAT Is in the Bag

The Department of Justice says that Artem Vaulin was arrested in Poland Wednesday and charged with criminal copyright infringement.

Vaulin is allegedly the owner and operator of KAT (Kickass Torrents), a website that Justice says has illegally copied and distributed over $1 billion in pirated TV episodes, movies and other digital media since 2008, using servers around the world including in Chicago. The complaint was filed in a Chicago U.S. District Court.

"The complaint alleges that Vaulin, who used the screen name 'tirm,' was involved in designing KAT’s original website, oversaw KAT’s operations and, during the latter part of the conspiracy, Vaulin allegedly operated KAT under the auspices of a Ukrainian-based front company called Cryptoneat," said DOJ. 

“Copyright infringement exacts a large toll, a very human one, on the artists and businesses whose livelihood hinges on their creative inventions,” said U.S. attorney Zachary T. Fardon in announcing the capture and charges. “Vaulin allegedly used the Internet to cause enormous harm to those artists."

Vaulin is charged with running the most-visited illegal file-sharing site in the world. The complaint alleges KAT drew more than 50 million unique visitors a month, estimated to be among the top 100 most-visited sites on the entire internet.

“We are grateful for the outstanding work of U.S. law enforcement and their partners outside the United States whose joint efforts put a stop to this massive theft," said Recording Industry Association of America chairman Cary Sherman. "In a music industry that depends upon legal digital distribution platforms for the majority of its revenues, targeted criminal actions play an important role in protecting the ability of creators to earn a living.  This case shows that individuals who use the veil of anonymity of the Internet to make a business of preying upon the creative industries are not beyond the reach of the law.”  

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.