CHICAGO (Reuters) - The owner of file-sharing website KAT was indicted in the United States on Wednesday for copyright infringement related to the distribution of more than $1 billion worth of movies, video games, music recordings and other content, U.S. justice officials said.
Artem Vaulin, 30, of Ukraine, was arrested in Poland and U.S. officials want him extradited to face charges that include conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to attorneys for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
U.S. officials alleged that KAT, which operates in about 28 languages, has a net worth of more than $54 million and illegally made available for download movies that were still in theaters such as "Independence Day: Resurgence" and "Finding Dory," the complaint stated.
The indictment stated that for financial gain the peer-to-peer file-sharing website, also known as Kickass Torrents, distributed since 2008 copyrighted works such as this year's film "Captain America: Civil War."
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Justice officials and artists' groups have gone after other websites that provided venues for file sharing, such as Napster and Megaupload. The founder of Megaupload, known as Kim Dotcom, is fighting extradition to the United States and has denied allegations that his site has cost film and record companies more than $500 million in revenue.
"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 statement.
"Vaulin allegedly used the Internet to cause enormous harm to those artists," Fardon said, adding that KAT relied on computer servers around the world due to efforts to halt illegal file sharing.
There was no legal representation listed for Vaulin in any court docket, a U.S. Department of Justice spokesman said. The company could not be reached through websites, which were experiencing outages, and there was no immediate response to a request sent to KAT through social media.
One of the domains operated by KAT, Kat.cr, was the 70th most popular website in the world, according to monitoring firm Alexa.
(Reporting by Michael Hirtzer; Editing by Alan Crosby, Toni Reinhold)