Feds Shut Down World’s Largest Online Piracy Site

     (CN) — The purported owner of Kickass Torrents, a popular file-sharing website, was arrested in Poland on Wednesday and charged with criminal copyright infringement by U.S. federal prosecutors.
     Artem Vaulin, a native of Ukraine, allegedly owns and operates Kickass Torrents, which the federal government claims is the world’s most-visited file-sharing website, allowing visitors to illegally download copyrighted movies, including movies still in theatres, video games, TV shows, music and computer programs.
     Vaulin was arrested Wednesday by authorities in Poland. The U.S. will seek to extradite him to the United States to stand trial on charges of criminal copyright infringement, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
     With 50 million unique monthly visitors, Kickass Torrents is approximately the 69th most visited website on the internet. It has enabled the theft of copyrighted material estimated at more than $1 billion, prosecutors claim.
     The website’s worth has been estimated at $54 million, with annual advertising revenue of between $12.5 million and $22.3 million, according to the complaint.
     It has been clocked by courts in the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia, and has moved its domain several times due to various seizures and copyright lawsuits.
     A federal judge in Chicago ordered the seizure of seven domain names associated with Kickass Torrents on Wednesday.
     “Copyright infringement exacts a large toll, a very human one, on the artists and businesses whose livelihood hinges on their creative inventions,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said in a press release. “Vaulin allegedly used the Internet to cause enormous harm to those artists.”
     Criminal copyright infringement is punished with a maximum sentence of five years. Conspiracy to commit money laundering is punishable with a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

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