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Kickass Torrents Defense: Torrents Are Not Copyrighted Material, Case Must Be Dismissed

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The legal defense team representing Kickass Torrents founder Artem Vaulin has submitted a motion to dismiss the U.S. government's case against the leader of what was once the world's most popular file-sharing website. The defense rests on the assertion that torrents are not copyrightable material, and therefore, there is no crime committed by hosting a torrent site, according to U.S. law.

The torrenting world was shaken to its core this past July when the number 1 site of its kind, Kickass Torrents, was shut down by the U.S. government. The founder of the site, Vaulin, who is located in Poland, is now facing criminal charges for operating the domain, under what federal authorities assert is a violation of copyright law.

The team representing Vaulin, however, has just filed a motion to dismiss the U.S. government's case against him. They assert that because torrents are not technically copyrightable material, there is no violation of criminal copyright laws, and the case must be thrown out without ever going to trial.

Vaulin's co-counsels from The Rothken Firm and Cotsirilos, Tighe, Streicker, Poulos & Campbell have submitted a 22-page memorandum of law supporting the motion to dismiss the case.

"Websites like KAT are devoid of content files. Instead, KAT is nothing more than a search engine, no different in any material way from Google and other popular website search engines, except that KAT indexes BitTorrent files," attorney Ira Rothken argues in the memorandum. "Thus, at its core, the indictment merely alleges that visitors to KAT may take advantage of KAT's automated search processes to search for and locate 'dot torrent' files. Such files contain textual information assembled by automated processes and do not contain copyrighted content."

The defense team claims that torrent files themselves have no copyright protection under U.S. law, and therefore, if individuals are infringing on valid copyright protections, it is on their own personal computers and not at the Kickass Torrents website. They assert that users cannot access any copyrighted material without first downloading and operating a separate torrent client, such as Vuze, which then allows them to process the torrent and ultimately download potentially copyrighted material to their device.

While there is U.S. copyright law in place to cover such secondary infringements, that law only applies to civil matters. There is no law in the current U.S. criminal code that applies to secondary infringements, and therefore, according to Vaulin's defense team, the criminal charges against him must be dismissed.

The U.S. government will be filing its response to the motion to dismiss in the coming weeks, and it will be interesting to see how they counter its arguments. We'll be sure to continue following the story and report back when the response is filed.

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