If you’re an avid torrent fan or user, this next story may come as bad news. PCMag, TorrentFreak, and several other outlets are reporting that U.S. Government agents, in conjunction with Polish authorities, have arrested 30-year-old Ukranian Artem Vaulin for his alleged ownership of Kickass Torrents (KAT). Polish authorities detained Vaulin on Wednesday and charged him with criminal copyright infringement.
In a statement, Assistant Attorney General in Chicago Leslie Caldwell said Vaulin is “responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials.” Caldwell went on to say, “His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”
A federal judge for the U.S. District Court in Chicago ordered the seizures of at least one bank account and seven domain names associated with Kickass Torrents. The Department of Justice has also formally requested Vaulin’s extradition from Poland to the United States.
TorrentFreak reports that the criminal complaint was made possible in part when Apple assisted authorities by providing Vaulin’s personal contact details and the IP address he used to make a purchase on iTunes. Apple provided the information to U.S. authorities after the email used to make the purchase was also linked to KAT’s Facebook account.
According to an Engadget story on the arrest, “agents were able to obtain records from Facebook that showed the “official.KAT.fanclub.” page was almost certainly associated with KAT.”
According to the PCMag report, Kickass Torrents is one of the top 100 most visited websites in the world, and is even larger than the more well-known “The Pirate Bay” torrenting site. Many torrent users will undoubtedly be affected by Vaulin’s arrest and the subsequent seizures of KAT websites, however just as it was in the case with Pirate Bay, Demonoid and other popular torrent sites that fell into the hands of the government, KAT closures may be short lived. Reports released in just the last 24 hours claim that KAT sites are already starting to pop back up, thanks to the code for creating a new server being made publicly available in case an arrest/shutdown were ever to take place.
As Vaulin is the owner of the world’s largest torrent site, I’m led to believe that he probably has at least a rudimentary understanding of internet technology. The fact that his KAT sites have been running so long also tells me that he knows how to hide. Therefore, I have to ask; why didn’t he use a VPN when ordering music from Apple?