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Lawyers for Artem Vaulin, the alleged head of KickassTorrents (KAT), recently attempted to get criminal copyright infringement charges against their client tossed. Last week, however, prosecutors fired back. In a court filing from last Friday, authorities argued that Vaulin should not even be allowed to file a motion to dismiss until he makes a formal appearance in federal court in Chicago, where the case is underway.
Vaulin was arrested in Poland in July, where he now awaits extradition to the United States. KAT was the world’s largest BitTorrent distribution site before it was shuttered by authorities earlier this year. Prosecutors have alleged that KAT unlawfully distributed more than $1 billion worth of copyrighted materials.
After Vaulin makes an appearance, his legal team can refile a motion to dismiss. At that point, prosecutors wrote, the motion should be denied anyway as the defense’s primary theory—that there is no such law that prohibits secondary criminal copyright infringement—is bunk.
As they explained:
For the defendant to claim immunity from prosecution because he earned money by directing users to download infringing content from other users is much like a drug broker claiming immunity because he never touched the drugs.
There is therefore no relevant distinction between “direct” and “secondary” copyright infringement within a criminal conspiracy to commit copyright infringement; a defendant is accountable for any act of reasonably foreseeable infringement committed by any co-conspirator that furthers the conspiracy. Likewise for aiding and abetting liability: as long as the elements of § 2 are met—for example, that the defendant aided or induced the crime’s commission—he may be charged as a principal even if he did not personally commit the crime.
A hearing has been set before US District Judge John Z Lee on December 20.