[Editor Charlie sez–in a great day for artist rights, a federal judge rules that the KAT founder is properly charged under applicable US law.]
For years, there’s been ample debate and scholarship on whether or not secondary copyright infringement constitutes a crime. On Friday, a federal judge in Illinois probably made the day of big copyright holders by ruling that the U.S. government has properly indicted Artem Vaulin, the alleged founder of KickassTorrents.
Vaulin is currently in a jail cell in Poland after the 31-year-old was charged last year by U.S. authorities with running one of the world’s most popular places to illegally obtain movies, television shows, songs and video games. After being arrested, he retained some of the same attorneys representing Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom to fight the case.
Dotcom, who is still in New Zealand in a lengthy battle over whether he can be extradited, never prevailed upon a Virginia judge to rule on the argument that secondary copyright infringement is merely a civil claim. That’s because he’s been deemed to be a fugitive. The judge wants him to surrender first.
In Illinois, presiding over Vaulin’s case, U.S. District Court Judge John Z. Lee could have done the same thing. Indeed, in Friday’s decision, he concludes that Vaulin can’t move to dismiss under the fugitive disentitlement doctrine.