Kickass Torrents (KAT), the world’s largest torrent site, had its alleged owner arrested by the U.S. Government. Artem Vaulin, the 30-year-old Ukrainian was arrested in Poland last July 20, 2016 and is charged with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of criminal copyright infringement. In addition, Chicago’s federal court has ordered for the seizure of several other KAT domain names.
With a myriad of unique visitors every single day, KAT has become the most used torrent site on the internet, beating its competitor, The Pirate Bay.
What is Kickass Torrent?
Kickass Torrents is a website, founded and established way back in 2009, that offers a directory of torrent files and magnet links to initiate a peer-to-peer file sharing using either the BitTorrent or UTorrent protocol. Back in November 2014, KAT became the most visited BitTorrent directory worldwide, overtaking the The Pirate Bay; another directory website that has the same content as KAT.
More on the KAT Ruling
The complaint also showed that the feds posed as a marketer, which also showed a bank account that was associated with KAT. In addition, it also revealed that Apple handed over pieces of personal details over to Vaulin after an investigator background checked an IP-address that was used for an iTunes transaction that was utilized further in logging in KAT’s official Facebook account.
The complaint stated that the records that were provided by Apple revealed that firstname.lastname@example.org initiated an iTunes transaction with the use of an IP-adress of 126.96.36.1993 on July 31, 2016 more or less. The mentioned IP-address was also used on the exact same day to log in into KAT’s Facebook page.
In addition to the arrest of Vaulin done in Poland, the court also granted the seizure of a certain bank account that was related to KAT, as well as a few of the website’s domain names. Assistant Attorney General Caldwell commented on the announcement that KAT helped send out over $1 billion in pirated files.
Torrent sites have long held that they’re following the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; thus, these websites are then shielded from its safe harbor provisions. Sites just like KAT permit users to provide links to pirated files and content, the defense stated that those websites shouldn’t be responsible for what the users do with their freedom. However, authorities stated that Vaulin’s operation with KAT is sometimes surrounded with takedown requests using lengthy demands.
Will it be possible for KAT to make a comeback?
Soon after the news circulated to the public, users worldwide were saddened to see their favorite torrent site down. Now, the question raised here is whether or not KAT would eventually make a comeback. While it’s still impossible to answer this question with certainty as of the moment, the odds may be carefully balanced by taking a closer look at the events that eventually led to KAT’s downfall and what may follow afterwards.
First off all, kat.cr is currently down across every single one of the site’s official domain names. This downtime seems to be voluntary in nature, as the authorities have yet to seize the servers. In addition, a few other domain names are still in the hands of the KAT team. That being said, the criminal complaint filed in Chicago’s U.S. District Court does show that KAT has heavily been compromised.
Considering all of the information the U.S. law enforcement currently has in their possession, it may be doubtful that KAT will resume with its old operation anytime soon. Technically speaking, it’s not that hard to make a comeback for KAT, as there are some backups that may be in the team’s possession still. However, now that the website has been heavily compromised, a continuing criminal investigation is also going underway. Therefore, making the effort to restore the site the way it was before can be a risky endeavor.
In the same manner, uploaders and KAT users may also worry about what data the authorities currently have in their possession. The complaint stated that private messages were sent through KAT – this suggested that the authorities have access to a huge amount of data. While regular users are less likely to be targeted, the information may be proven useful for future investigations into large scale uploaders.
A clearer perspective on everything that’s happened to KAT, its future, the meaning of it all in the torrent ecosystem is expected to become further manifested when the dust completely settles.