One of the world’s most popular file-sharing websites, Kickass Torrents, was down Thursday following the arrest of alleged founder Artem Vaulin in Poland Wednesday. With users looking for alternative options, here’s a look at everything you need to know about Kickass Torrents and the current situation.
What is Kickass Torrents?
Kickass Torrents, also known as KAT, is a website that provided users with a directory of torrent files (torrent files are smaller files that contain information on how to download larger files) as well as links allowing for peer-to-peer file sharing. The website was founded in 2008 and has operated under different domain names including kickasstorrents.com, kat.ph, kickass.to, kickass.so and kat.cr.
The U.S. Department of Justice described KAT as the “most visited illegal file-sharing website” responsible for “unlawfully distributing” more than $1 billion worth of copyrighted materials in a statement released Wednesday. The U.S. has alleged that KAT draws in over 50 million unique visitors every month making it one of the world’s most popular websites.
If your college roommate was watching an illegal episode of “Game of Thrones,” they may have found it with the help of KAT. KAT along with The Pirate Bay helped to set a new piracy record for downloads of the popular HBO series.
Why Was Alleged Founder Artem Vaulin Arrested?
Vaulin, 30, a Ukrainian national originally from the eastern city of Kharkiv, was arrested in Poland as part of a U.S. government operation. He went by the user name “tirm.” In addition, he has been charged with multiple counts including one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of criminal copyright infringement, the U.S. Justice Department said. Seven domain names linked with KAT have also been seized. Apple helped authorities by handing over information on Vaulin, Wired reported. Authorities allege that Vaulin generated upwards of $20 million in advertising revenue from KAT and was not responsive to take down requests.
What Happens Next?
The U.S. is pushing for Vaulin’s extradition so he can face the charges against him in the states. While authorities have seized multiple sites, they have not yet seized KAT.ch and the site was unresponsive. New sites are likely to spring up to fill the void. Defenders of sites like KAT have argued that there is nothing wrong with providing links and that it is up to individuals what they do with that information.