US seizure of top piracy site shows government’s misguided priorities

US seizure of top piracy site shows government's misguided priorities

Yesterday, in a joint effort between Homeland Security, Facebook, Apple and the Polish Government, among others, 30-year-old Ukrainian citizen Artem Vaulin was arrested in Poland and is awaiting extradition to the United States. With that kind of concerted effort behind it you would think that he must be some kind of terrorist, or drug lord, or some huge figurehead in international organized crime. He’s none of those actually, but what he is believed to be is the owner of a website that allows its users to obtain pirated works such as movies, music and TV shows. Vaulin is believed to be, by US authorities, the owner of a site called Kickass Torrents (KAT). KAT doesn’t actually host any of the pirated works. What they do host are what’s known as torrent files. These are files that allow the users of KAT to collectively share the pirated works between each other. I realize that’s largely arguing semantics, but it dispels a myth that these pirate sites host the actual pirated works.

So why does any of this matter? Even though no statement has been made to the effect, one could easily surmise that this massive operation on the part of the US Government came from pressure from the entertainment industry, which Homeland Security estimates that they’re losing $1 billion a year because of KAT. In a sense, it seems like the government is bowing to pressure from people who make things like trashy reality shows.

Now I know the ‘Why don’t you go after the real criminals’ argument is a specious one, because you would want your law enforcement to pursue all criminals, but couldn’t the government’s resources and manpower be better used? For example, take Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer. Mr. Ferrer was called to testify before Congress about Backpage’s role in the sex trafficking of women and children in our country. Instead, Mr, Ferrer left for the Netherlands ‘on business’. Since that time not only has Congress held him in contempt but he and Backpage are being sued by Congress. Why is there no contingent of government and corporate forces uniting to bring Mr. Ferrer before Congress? It’s simple really. The victims of sex trafficking have no lobbying group behind them. There’s no money to be made by politicians for trying to stop the flood of human trafficking that Backpage allegedly facilitates. On the other hand the entertainment industry has very deep pockets for our friends in Washington.

So sorry to all the victims of Backpage, it seems you can’t afford justice.