Kickass Torrents (KAT) – the largest and most popular website for downloads of movies and TV shows – is down and out. The website’s founder and owner has been arrested and is currently awaiting extradition to the U.S.
Founded in 2008, Kickass Torrents eventually surpassed The Pirate Bay as the best place to go to download copies of movies, TV shows, audio books, software and other files. The website rose in popularity after The Pirate Bay itself experienced multiple raids, and its three founders were arrested.
According to Tech Crunch, the KAT torrent website counted more than 50 million unique monthly visitors and was thought to be the 68th most frequently visited website on the Internet.
— MirrorTech (@MirrorTech) July 21, 2016
The authorities have tried to take it down in the past, and it has always resurfaced, but now things are far more serious. In a case of incredible irony, the founder of the website has been arrested after making a perfectly legitimate music purchase on iTunes.
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Using basic website-tracking services, authorities were able to uncover (via a reverse DNS search) the hosts of seven apparent KAT website domains: kickasstorrents.com, kat.cr, kickass.to, kat.ph, kastatic.com, thekat.tv and kickass.cr.
As for the owner himself, Artem Vaulin, 30 – who hails from Kharkiv, Ukraine – was tracked down by the Feds after using the same IP address to make the legal purchase on iTunes, that he then used to log into the KAT Facebook page.
— Geo English (@geonews_english) July 21, 2016
Vaulin was arrested in Poland and is facing extradition to the U.S. He had been charged with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement.
According to TorrentFreak, who have a copy of the document, the criminal complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Reportedly, the attorney general has suggested in a statement that KAT had “stole[n] more than $1 billion in profits from the U.S. entertainment industry.”
The torrent website is down right now, and with Vaulin in custody, it looks pretty certain it may never return.
Reportedly, there was quite a complicated process in tracking down and capturing the torrent website founder. According to court documents, what it boils down to is the fact that a federal employee posed as an advertiser on the torrent website, which then produced Vaulin’s banking details.
Soon after this, Apple provided authorities with Vaulin’s personal details after he made that ironic and totally legal iTunes purchase. The pursuant login to social media and access to the KAT Facebook page simply capped the whole deal.
U.S. charges owner of file-sharing website Kickass Torrents with copyright infringement https://t.co/TFXETkRIvG pic.twitter.com/0LgdHWf2uV
— Bloomberg (@business) July 21, 2016
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said in a statement, “In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cyber criminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”
Of course, as one torrent website disappears, no doubt others will spring up in its place.