You might not want to admit it, but chances are you've visited Kickass Torrents, the most popular way to download video games (or anything, really) illegally. Its owner was recently arrested, but that doesn't mean Kickass Torrents is dead. Yesterday, it came back online... for now. Kickass Torrents has been at the top of the torrent charts for years, according to Torrent Freak. But once the people in charge start getting rounded up for arrest, it's usually the first step towards irrelevance.
"It [the arrest] is another attack on freedom of rights of internet users globally," the site wrote in a statement, pushing back on recent events. "We think it's our duty not to stand aside but to fight back supporting our rights. In the world of regular terrorist attacks where global corporations are flooded with money while millions are dying of diseases and hunger, do you really think that torrents deserve so much attention? Do you really think this fight worth the money and resources spent on it? Do you really think it's the real issue to care of right now? We don't!"
Hey, look, I get that downloading Game of Thrones for free is cool 'n all, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here.
Torrent websites (and piracy in general) is a game of whack-a-mole. One goes down, another springs up. Not long ago, The Pirate Bay was the place to go for all your illegal needs, before it ran into all sorts of legal trouble.
Gizmodo recently outlined how the owner of Kickass Torrents, 30-year-old Artem Vaulin, got caught. The short version? He was very stupid.
As we learn from the criminal complaint against Vaulin, authorities were able to catch him just by chasing his IP address. Let's walk through Vaulin's many apparent screw ups. First, for whatever reason, this guy was operating a Kickass Torrents Facebook fan page. Probably for promotional purposes, sure, but a bonehead move nonetheless. This is almost incomprehensibly misguided if you are operating an illegal enterprise. By doing this, Vaulin was essentially handing over all of his Facebook-related data to US investigators. When the US government came to Facebook with a warrant for the Kickass Torrents fan page, Facebook handed over the log data (as it should) and revealed that Vaulin was using an @me.com email address to sign into Facebook. Who owns me.com? Apple.
Even the folks propping up Kickass Torrents realise the time is nigh.
"Kat.cr is a website we all know and love," the website wrote, "and the world will never be the same without it. That's why before it will come back we've made the mirror of Kat.cr with all the torrents we could find. It's not perfect but if you want to save and archive something, now it's the time! We don't know how long it can last, but at least it's something."
The website's started Change.org and White House petitions to try and raise awareness for Vaulin's plight, but more likely than not, people will just move onto whatever website becomes the new king of torrents.
As of this writing, the White House petition has 1718 of the 100,000 signatures needed.