July 22, 2016

International Partners Collaborate to Take Down World’s Largest Illegal File Sharing Operation

One of the world’s most notorious cyber-criminals, who is alleged to have stolen and distributed millions of copyrighted works valued at more than $1 billion, was arrested and charged this week for criminal copyright infringement and money laundering. GIPC applauds all of those who took action to enforce creative property protection laws.

Artem Vaulin, creator, owner and operator of Kickass Torrents, the world’s most-visited illegal file-sharing website, is charged with facilitating the theft of millions of copies of the world’s most popular movies, television shows, music recordings, video games, and other electronic media.  The site’s negative impact on the creative community, consumers, and the global economy is immense, and likely resulted in the loss of countless jobs.

The U.S. Department of Justice worked in cooperation with numerous domestic and international partners to indict Vaulin and seize his Internet domain sites. Vaulin was arrested in Poland and is currently awaiting extradition to the United States.

This enforcement action would not have been possible without the outstanding work of the Polish Border Guard and the National Public Prosecutor’s Office, and many domestic law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), and the International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center, to name just a few.

Too often, the theft of creative works or new inventions is viewed as only having a negative impact on big studios, companies or conglomerates.  However, consumers who crave the creative works of popular musicians, filmmakers, and authors risk the theft of their personal information and are exposed to dangerous malware from visiting illegal file-sharing sites and other online criminal enterprises.  Artists and creators who have spent countless sleepless nights working on the next number one song or script for a blockbuster film, and have invested their time and hard earned dollars in perfecting their craft, have reason to rejoice as the world sees that online criminals face consequences for their actions.

To ensure consumers have access to the latest and greatest hits, or even oldies and goodies or obscure works, law enforcement must continue to make protection creative property a priority. And it must continue to take down criminal actors, so that our creators can continue to create without falling victim to thieves like Vaulin and other big-screen-worthy bad guys.

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