The extradition wheels are turning for Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of torrent site KickassTorrents, who was arrested in Poland in July after an investigation from US authorities. TorrentFreak reports that his arrest has been extended until 19 November, with a hearing due in late October as Vaulin challenges the extradition process.
His lawyer Val Gurvits has been talking to the site about his client’s likely defence, which will focus on whether running a torrent search-engine is a criminal offence or not. “Operating an index search engine cannot constitute a crime in the United States because secondary infringement is not criminalised under US law,” claimed Gurvits. “If KickassTorrents is a criminal operation, then Google should start worrying.”
This is an argument that we’ve heard regularly before, whenever a site accused of copyright infringement wants to plead its case. However, despite the music industry’s regular criticism of Google over piracy links on its search engine, the takedown-filing process there is clear: if any filesharing site wants to compare itself to Google, it will have to show that its own DMCA-compliance matches that company’s.
Or rather: when rightsholders attack Google, it’s the rules it operates within that they want to change: they want ‘notice and stay-down’ rather than ‘notice and takedown’ to become the obligation. For a site like KickassTorrents to bring Google into its battle, the issue is not just about the question of linking to copyright-infringing content, but about the process for dealing with the rightsholders of that content.