KickassTorrents domains shut down; alleged owner arrested

One of the world's most popular torrenting services, KickassTorrents has been taken down today, after an order from the United States Department of Justice Wednesday.

KickassTorrents Homepage

KickassTorrents, which was founded in 2008, is one of the most visited torrenting websites on the internet, reaching 50 million unique visitors per month, according to the DOJ. It is also the 68th most visited website in the world, as data from Alexa states.

Due to it providing links to copyrighted content, countries like the United Kingdom and Italy have taken steps to block the website, in order to prevent content from being pirated.

The court also ordered the arrest of Artem Vaulin, a 30-year old Ukranian who is suspected to be the website's owner. He was later taken into custody in Poland, where he resides. The extradition process has also reportedly been initiated.

Vaulin is facing two counts of criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, as well as one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

Seven domains of KickassTorrents have also been taken down as part of the arrest. Some of its servers, according to the Department of Justice, were located in Chicago.

Officials were able to catch Vaulin by pretending to be a potential advertiser for KickassTorrents. Within the transaction, his bank account details were exposed. After cross-referencing IP addresses used to access accounts for the torrenting website, the authorities concluded that Vaulin was the owner of the website.

In a press release, the Department of Justice explained how Vaulin's business worked, and how they finally managed to capture him. It states:

"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."

According to complaints filed by Chicago officials, KickassTorrents raked in an annual advertising revenue of $12.5 million to $22.3 million while hosting its copyrighted content.

As of now, it appears that all of KickassTorrents' domains are inaccessible. It is not known if and when the website will return in the future.

Source: Los Angeles Times, DoJ Via: Ars Technica | Image via AlternativeTo

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