The Australian music industry has said it will proceed with a case to block KickAss Torrents, despite the website being taken down yesterday and the site’s founder arrested.

The alleged founder of the world’s largest piracy torrent website, Artem Vaulin a native of Ukraine, was arrested in Poland on Wednesday and charged with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and criminal copyright infringement. The United States Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Assistant Attorney-General Leslie Caldwell said in a statement that authorities would seek Vaulin’s extradition to the US to face the charges.

Caldwell claimed the file-sharing site, hosting TV shows, films, software and music, distributed over $1 billion in copyright material, with 50 million unique visitors worldwide per month and ranking as the 69th most-visited website in the world. Seven domain names and a bank account have been seized as part of the case, and at the time of writing, KickAss remains offline.

The site and its many mirror versions is already blocked in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia, but in Australia the music industry had begun legal action to have the website blocked by local internet service providers. The case had been delayed pending a decision in a similar case brought on by Foxtel and the film studio companies for other piracy websites, but a case management hearing had coincidentally been set for today to decide the future of the case.

The Foxtel decision hasn’t been handed down yet, and despite KickAss’s offline status, Crikey has confirmed the case will still be proceeding. Potentially to avoid a Hydra situation where new versions of KickAss reappear down the track.

In the Foxtel case, that is a key issue of concern. Rights holders want an effective block on a website, meaning multiple versions of the sites will need to be blocked over time but internet providers will end up incurring a lot of costs to constantly update and block new locations of the same website.

Peter Fray

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