A man accused of using Internet domains to distribute copyrighted, first-run movies and other stolen material obtained two of those domains in Costa Rica.
He is Artem Vaulin, 30, of Kharkiv, Ukraine, who owns and operates Kickass Torrents, or KAT, a commercial Web site that since 2008 has enabled users to illegally reproduce and distribute hundreds of millions of copies of copyrighted motion pictures, video games, television programs, musical recordings and other electronic media, collectively valued at more than $1 billion, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Vaulin was arrested Wednesday by authorities in Poland.
The man may not have ever been in Costa Rica because he used servers around the world to avoid legal entanglements. He appears to have purchased the Costa Rican domains in April 2015 after he was shut down by authorities in the Isla of Man. He or an agent obtained the domain names with the .cr suffix from the Academia Nacional de Ciencias, which has handled domains names here since 1990.
They are not cheap. The academy charges $80 a year for a Costa Rican domain as compared to $10 or $11 for domains in other countries or a .com domain.
KAT operates in approximately 28 languages, according to the complaint. KAT’s net worth has been estimated at more than $54 million, with estimated annual advertising revenue in the range of $12.5 million to $22.3 million, according to the federal complaint. KAT has moved its domains many times due to numerous seizures and copyright lawsuits, and it has been ordered blocked by courts in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia, the federal complaint states.