Artem Vaulin, the alleged mastermind behind the most popular illegal file-sharing site on the internet – KickassTorrents, was arrested by authorities in Poland on Thursday. According to US authorities, the site helped distribute over a billion dollars worth of pirated music, movies and softwares on the internet.
Ironically, the 30-year-old who made a living by allowing others to download copyrighted material for free, was tracked down by investigators with the help of his ‘legal’ purchases of movies and music on Apple’s iTunes.
According to the complaint, the Ukrainian was linked to KickassTorrents with the help of data provided to FBI by both Facebook and Apple. While Apple shared the details of his iTunes purchases, Facebook shared the details of the website’s Facebook page.
The website, alongwith all its alternate proxy sites, are down following Vaulin’s arrest. This time, authorities aren’t just taking the domain names, they are shutting down the global servers on which the site was running.
KickassTorrents, like Pirate Bay, was not limited to sharing of music and movies. It also allowed users to download material with the help of links.
According to a Washington Post article, “Some 50 million people visited it each month and it ranked as the 69th most popular site on the entire internet, according to the criminal complaint. And that traffic translated into massive profits: Investigators estimate the site earned between $12.5 million and $22.3 million from online advertising.”
Vaulin is facing multiple criminal charges, including copyright infringement and money laundering, which could potentially land him in prison for decades.
KickassTorrents isn’t the first website to be taken down for illegally distributing digital content. In the past decade, over a dozen popular torrent sites have been taken down, only to make way for newer ones. Supernova’s takedown made The Pirate Bay popular, which was subsequently replaced by KickassTorrents.
Since the underlying BitTorrent platform is not illegal, and is used for legitimate purposes, sites distributing illegal will continue to crop up. With KickassTorrents gone, another will take its place soon enough.