The federal authorities have finally arrested the alleged mastermind behind the world’s largest and most notorious BitTorrent distribution site KickassTorrents (KAT), the US Justice Department announced on Wednesday.
After The Pirate Bay had suffered copyright infringement hardship, KickassTorrents (KAT) became the biggest and most-used pirate site on the Internet, attracting millions of daily unique visitors.
However, the site appears to be offline after its alleged owner Artem Vaulin, a 30-year-old Ukrainian national was apprehended in Poland today, and the US government has requested his extradition.
Although some proxy sites seem to be currently up and running, its main site, https://kat.cr, appears to be down worldwide and most of the other KAT domains, including kickasstorrents.com, kastatic.com, thekat.tv, kat.cr, kickass.cr, kickass.to, kat.ph, have been seized by the authorities.
Charges Filed Against KickassTorrents Owner
According to criminal complaint [pdf] filed in US District Court in Chicago, Vaulin faces:
- Two counts of criminal copyright infringement.
- One count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.
- One count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The United States federal authorities say that KickassTorrent has caused damages of more than $1 Billion to copyright holders.
Here’s what Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell stated in a press release issued by the Department of Justice:
“Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials. 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 cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”
In addition to the KAT’s domain names seizure, the Chicago court has also ordered the seizure of bank accounts related to the notorious pirate website, as well as servers located in Chicago, USA, and Canada.
KickassTorrents has been blocked in many countries in the past including the UK, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, and Malaysia.
How KickassTorrents Team Responds to Copyright Infringement Complaints:
According to the court affidavit, Vaulin claimed that his BitTorrent site KAT did not violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), but they did.
When any film studio filed a notice-and-takedown for a potential DMCA violation, KAT responds like this:
Here’s How Authorities get their hands on the KAT Owner:
An IRS agent went undercover to buy and advertise on the notorious site for five days, at the price of $300 per day.
This revealed Vaulin’s e-mail account, email@example.com, hosted by Apple, who provided a copy of his email inbox to authorities after being requested for help.
With the help of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), US officials were easily able to obtain information about the KAT’s operations from the bank accounts used to collect payments for advertisement slots.
“Records provided by Apple showed that firstname.lastname@example.org conducted an iTunes transaction using IP Address 18.104.22.168 on or about July 31, 2015,” reads the complaint. “The same IP Address was used on the same day to login into the KAT Facebook.”
An analysis of this account later disclosed the presence of KAT’s servers in Chicago.