If you’re one of the millions of daily visitors to kat.cr (kickass torrents, or KAT) or one of its duplicate sites, you’ve had problems. You’re probably wondering if kickass torrents is just suffering from a slight problem with server issues or if there’s something larger at play. After all, this isn’t the first time that kickass torrents’ owner and operator Artem Vaulin, has had to change servers to avoid legal complications.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case now. The United States Department of Justice, in cooperation with local police in Poland, has arrested Vaulin and seized assets related to the operation of KAT. Among the assets seized are one bank account and seven domain names associated with KAT. According to a US DOJ press release, “Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials.” He is also at the center of an investigation regarding money laundering for a Ukrainian company called Cryptoneat.
Vaulin is currently being held by Polish police as the US Government prepares to extradite him to America to stand trial for facilitating the digital piracy of entertainment worldwide. At the time of his arrest, Vaulin and Kickass Torrents were already blocked from several countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Malaysia, Portugal, and Italy.
This isn’t the first time that governments have targeted popular torrent sharing sites. On 09 Dec 2014, The Pirate Bay was raided and seized by Swedish Police, shutting it down, as well as other torrent sites such as EZTV and Torrage. Whether KAT will be able to successfully rise from the ashes like The Pirate Bay did or if it will follow other sites like YIFY into the land of 404 remains to be seen.