KickassTorrents Goes Offline, Alleged Owner Arrested

If you're one of the many, many people who shouldn't but does go to KickassTorrents for various bits and pieces, bad news: the site's down and its alleged owner is currently in handcuffs.

The US Department of Justice this morning announced that 30-year-old Artem Vaulin was "arrested today in Poland" and a criminal complaint has been filed against him in Chicago's District Court. Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said that Valuin was responsible for running the "most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $US1 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."

The US Government is seeking to have Vaulin extradited to the US. According to the department, KickassTorrents is the 69th most popular website on the internet, with more than 50 million unique visitors a month.

"“Websites such as the one seized today brazenly facilitate all kinds of illegal commerce. Criminal Investigation is committed to thoroughly investigating financial crimes, regardless of the medium," the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation's Chief Richard Weber exclaimed.

The department also claimed that the site made around $US12.5 million to $US22.3 million a year in advertising revenue. According to TorrentFreak, that's also how they were caught, with investigators conducting a sting by posing as potential advertisers.

The top domain for the website on Google is currently down at the time of writing, as is a page dedicated to reporting the status of its servers.


Comments

    How long until it "miraculously" comes back as a blatant honeypot?

    Having...trouble...breathing...

    Alright, PB's still there.
    Keep calm and continue seeding.
    That is all.

    “Websites such as the one seized today brazenly facilitate all kinds of illegal commerce."

    I'm wondering what are the other 'kinds of illegal commerce' mentioned, other than the obvious piracy.
    Never have I run across anything else on Kickass. That one time I accidentally went there by accident.

      Money from ads funds organised crime or some other bull is usually what they pull out to answer that.

      And not just one or two kinds of illegal commerce, all kinds of illegal commerce.

    Is this the gentleman who ruined the buffet at the Harrow club this morning?

      Tell Victor that I have um..Herpes Simplex 10. And he might wanna go get himself checked out before things start fallin' off on the man

    Who uses KAT anymore? Everyone knows RARBG is two turntables and a microphone.

    Its a shame that there were most likely also magnets for completely legal archived files hosted on there. I often have to rely on torrent sites when I am looking for either very old software or media that I cant find on more conservative platforms (think old interviews and out of date software that I use for trouble shooting older systems). Then there are also novels that arent in print and never made it to digital platforms.

    I get that the vast majority of people use P2P for terrible reasons, but I know a few people that actually have good uses for them.

      i've used it to get older versions of software for my work, we have the licences but some companies don't have their older software available.

        This is exactly it, I am using old Mac files that I cant get else where and file hosts arent reliable enough for me to share between multiple physical sites.

      but I know a few people that actually have good uses for them.

      That is what torrents are originally for. Just look at Bram Cohen's original paper and you'll find that the goal was to make downloading reliable and robust even when the original file was not longer available.

        Theres a variation on .torrent called .tstream that is, for all intents, the same as a .torrent, only it downloads the segments in order. Why do I mention it? Well, for a time, the BBC was looking into using it to stream their online content.

        Strange that they didnt have too much of an issue with P2P at the time when it worked in their favor. Sadly it never went ahead, it wasnt quite developed enough at the time for commercial use, storage became less of a cost issue, and you started to see services like Hulu pop up that lead to a different path for the industry.

        But it was nearly a thing, and one they were quite enthusiastic for at the time. There are perfectly viable uses for torrents.

          Theres a variation on .torrent called .tstream that is, for all intents, the same as a .torrent, only it downloads the segments in order. Why do I mention it? Well, for a time, the BBC was looking into using it to stream their online content.

          I think that might be to do with the fact that while Cohen provided a sound protocol those who made clients had their own tweaks.

          For example, one of the rules was how segments were prioritised. The less available a segment was, the higher it would become on what was downloaded first to prevent downloading being impossible if the original source was lost.

          But I think some had a tweak where the first X percent of the file was given a high priority first before the rest (most likely working on the probability that some would stop the torrent, see if the file was what they needed and then either continued or deleted the incomplete file.

          Don't know how I missed .tstream but I did see something similar back in the day for content delivery networks. They worked in a hybrid manner where the first third or so of a file was distributed in small segments but later region used ever increasing segments. It worked on the same examine I raised before where the intention was to hastily get the first portion to the end client and worked on the probability that not everyone would view the whole file.

          There are perfectly viable uses for torrents.

          Very true. I recently went to give Star Craft 1 a shot and the downloader is basically a specialised BitTorrent client.

          Heck, if I remember right, Cohen didn't have a stint at Valve for a while so some mechanics that made BT possible became the foundations for Steam and it's grid file system.

          But like many other good ideas, a few use them for all the wrong reasons and new we have corporations screaming blue murder and demonising it rather than looking at the reason why it's being used.

          Either way, I've digressed long enough. Thanks for the discussion though. Reminds me of better times when I was a researcher, :).

          Last edited 22/07/16 6:43 am

            Yeah, could be right. I dont remember all the details myself, it was a few years ago now, but the BBC angle was what caught my eye and why I remember it. Would have been a far different world if .tstream had caught on before Hulu and Netflix...

    Too bad for HBO and foxtel that it didn't happen about twelve weeks ago.

      It wouldn't have made a difference. One site falls, everyone just moves onto the next. MiniNova, Demonoid, PirateBay, KAT... I'm probably forgetting a few along the way here, I know there was something big that died before MiniNova but can't remember what it was.

        Suprnova.

        Also, PirateBay didn't fall.

          Not completely but it was down for nearly a month and even when it did come back, it was like 99% dodgy links for a while. I wouldn't be surprised if KAT survives this too but (like with Pirate Bay back then) if they take too long half the people will just move on.

          Last edited 21/07/16 5:35 pm

            Grouping PirateBay together with MiniNova, Demonoid and now KAT as sites that have fallen..

            Google PirateBay.. it's there right?

            PirateBay is up over 95% of the time. When they went down for a month one December once that is just a faded memory now. The URL suffix changes but I always get redirected to the proper PirateBay anyway. I also use predb.me and google the scene release names and google is very helpful actually :) and I do some usenet.

            You might have been thinking of ISOHunt as well.

            Mininova went legit (who cares) and yeah I used to use Demonoid around 2010.

            In the last 2 years how often has PirateBay gone down? I don't think ever. What's the all time ratio for PirateBay being up.. I reckon 99%.

            But you grouped PirateBay together with sites that have actually died.

            Oh shit! I just dropped some faecal matter on the floor and then stepped on it! OMG.

      *Edit* Redacted: If you didn't see it by now.. too late :D

      Better @inquisitorsz ? lol

      Last edited 22/07/16 10:28 am

        *cough* do you really have to sign up for these sites? That rainerland wants credit card details :/ *cough*

        Last edited 21/07/16 4:39 pm

          No, use adblocker and it gets rid of that crap. How... are you not using adblocker these days!?

          Last edited 21/07/16 9:08 pm

        SHHHHHHH!
        FFS man keep it quiet. The longer they don't know about these other sites, the longer we can enjoy them

    Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said that Valuin was responsible for running the “most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $US1 billion of copyrighted materials”.

    Where there’s grounds for a mistrial right there.

    1. It’s a torrent index site; there is no file sharing via the site.
    2. The sharing is done via end clients on the Internet’s edge so unless the changes are changed to being an accessory or aiding in copyright infringement the current claim is invalid.

    Websites such as the one seized today brazenly facilitate all kinds of illegal commerce.

    Didn’t take long for that mindless rhetoric to show up. I’m not going to dignify it with a rebuttal.

    The department also claimed that the site made around $US12.5 million to $US22.3 million a year in advertising revenue.

    Which itself is not illegal. If it is, then what of Google, Amazon, etc., who use similar mechanics for extra revenue. Heck, what about YouTube, there’s another large precident.

    Overall, copyright infringement is wrong. There is no denying that.

    But at the same time, going after the torrent sites is just wrong and is basically the same as going after stores that sell knifes because them same kind of knifes were used in attacks and even murder.

      Pretty sure kat also adhered to all dcma notifications as well.

      Where there’s grounds for a mistrial right there.
      1. It’s a torrent index site; there is no file sharing via the site.
      2. The sharing is done via end clients on the Internet’s edge so unless the changes are changed to being an accessory or aiding in copyright infringement the current claim is invalid.

      The wording is likely dumbed down for the non-tech people to understand. I'd say their actual case would be pretty tight considering the lengths they went to to catch the guy.

      Which itself is not illegal. If it is, then what of Google, Amazon, etc., who use similar mechanics for extra revenue. Heck, what about YouTube, there’s another large precident.

      You're right, it's not illegal by itself, but I think their point is that he's making money from an illegal activity.

      Last edited 21/07/16 2:02 pm

      You could probably argue that all that ad revenue is proceeds of crime... and we also don't know what those millions were used for, could well be lots of other criminal activity.

      I'd love to believe that torrent sites are just doing it to spread the love of entertainment to the masses and stick it to the man, but it would not surprise me one bit if there was heaps of other shady shit going on.

      Let's not get all high and mighty about illegal websites. Let's be happy it lasted as long as it did, and go find another one.

      PS: the knife example is very bad. Change to screwdriver maybe, but a torrent site is more like a store knowingly selling or trading stolen goods. Yes I know it's not technically theft, but's it's much closer than knife attacks.

        You could probably argue that all that ad revenue is proceeds of crime

        That would be a phenomenal stretch because KAT is not actually exchanging the binary pieces themselves; it only provides a means to discover edge clients what contain pieces or the whole file (seeds).

        but it would not surprise me one bit if there was heaps of other shady shit going on.

        I used to be a researcher so my reasoning is based on objectivity. Admittedly I haven't checked in a while but last I checked the evidence backing such claims is minimal at best and barely shows on the radar.

        If anything, it is used to scare people into thinking the movie industry is under threat when in reality it is making insane profits despite continued piracy.

        Let's not get all high and mighty about illegal websites.

        Er... nobody has here so far so I don't why how that is even relevant.

        PS: the knife example is very bad.

        Still accurate though; if we are going to hold torrent sites liable for civil matters such as this a precedent will be set that will drag humble stores into criminal proceedings.

    Criminal Investigation is committed to thoroughly investigating financial crimes, regardless of the medium,” the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s Chief Richard Weber exclaimed.

    Hmmm...

    https://torrentfreak.com/u-s-government-sued-for-software-piracy-maker-claims-600m-160720/

    aaand it will be back within a week.

      If not KAT, then something else will offer the same service and the cycle will continue because such sites are among the symptoms and are not the cause.

    Any good alternatives?

      They are just indexers. In theory (not safe for me to learn from practice) as long as you keep good AV practices even if your torrent turns out to be poisoned one will be fine.

      Given the distributed nature via DHT and Magnet Links there is a high probability one will find the same ML on more than one torrent site.

      And that is assuming there is still a place for these index sites. It's only inevitable that this becomes fully distributed and searches will also run among the peers instead of central sites.

        So no?

          Didn't say that. Just look around.

          And if you're wondering why I'm reserved, I'm self employed. That means I face the corporate scale penalties and near immediate imprisonment if I so much as go looking for torrent (index) sites.

    In the mean time, the US Navy 'steals' ~$600m in software licensing...

    The white pages lists contact numbers of known criminals, therefore is complicit in their activities.

    Will be cool to see how they rationalise the case since it seems to lean heavily on IP of appleID = IP of WHOIS data owner.

    IP address doesn't' specify a person, so that's gg right there. But we all know the legal system is corrupt.

      Not corrupt. But it has been summed up best in Oliver Twist.

      The law is an ass - an idiot.

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