KickassTorrents (also known as KAT), the most popular torrent site in the world, has gone down.
The website was seized shortly after the arrest of 30-year-old Artem Vaulin, the alleged founder of KAT who the U.S. will seek to extradite. The Ukrainian was arrested in Poland and has been charged with 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 criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court explains that KickassTorrents receives more than 50 million unique monthly visitors and is estimated to be the 69th most frequently visited website on the Internet. The complaint also states KickassTorrents operates in approximately 28 languages, has a net worth of more than $54 million, and generates an estimated $12.5 million to $22.3 million in annual advertising revenue.
“Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials,” Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in a statement.
“In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”
Federal authorities in Chicago say they have “seized domain names associated with the website”. The domains in question are kickasstorrents.com, kat.ph, kickass.to, kastatic.com, kickass.so, thekat.tv, and kat.cr.
Whether the site stays down or not, users will merely shift to other torrent sites, including copycats that are likely to spring up almost immediately.