♠ Posted by Emmanuel in Underground Economy at 7/24/2016 05:07:00 PM
|"Hmm...we may not be watching the latest Game of Thrones episode tonight, dear."|
For the longest time, however, Kickass Torrents had somehow eluded this fate. Last week, however, the inevitable happened as it too was shut down:
With millions of unique visitors per day KickassTorrents (KAT) has become the most-used torrent site on the Internet, beating even The Pirate Bay. Today, however, the site has run into a significant roadblock after U.S. authorities announced the arrest of the site’s alleged owner. The 30-year-old Artem Vaulin, from Ukraine, was arrested today in Poland from where the United States has requested his extradition.The snitch was Apple:
In a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the alleged owner is charged with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement.
The complaint further reveals that the feds posed as an advertiser, which revealed a bank account associated with the site. It also shows that Apple handed over personal details of Vaulin after the investigator cross-referenced an IP-address used for an iTunes transaction with an IP-address that was used to login to KAT’s Facebook account.Actually, it is remarkable that it took so long to shut down this torrent tracker, which maintained servers in the US of all places. That's something that not even the Pirate Bay was dumb enough to do:
“Records provided by Apple showed that firstname.lastname@example.org conducted an iTunes transaction using IP Address 184.108.40.206 on or about July 31, 2015. The same IP Address was used on the same day to login into the KAT Facebook,” the complaint reads.
In addition to the arrest in Poland, the court also granted the seizure of a bank account associated with KickassTorrents, as well as several of the site’s domain names. Commenting on the announcement, Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said that KickassTorrents helped to distribute over $1 billion in pirated files. “Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials.”
Perhaps most tellingly, in the first instance KAT failed to learn from the ‘mistakes’ made by Megaupload. While the cases are somewhat dissimilar, both entities chose to have a US presence for at least some of their servers. This allowed US authorities to get involved. Not a great start.So, does the Kickass Torrents story end here? Actually, mirror sites have begun popping up all over the place already:
“[Since 2008], KAT has relied on a network of computer servers around the world to operate, including computer servers located in Chicago, Illinois,” the complaint against the site reads. The Chicago server weren’t trivial either. “According to a reverse DNS search conducted by the hosting company on or about May 5, 2015, that server was the mail client ‘mail.kat.ph’.” Torrent site mail servers. In the United States. What could go possibly go wrong?
Shortly after KAT went offline dozens of people began promoting mirrors and copies of the site. Some are just trying to keep lost files accessible, but there’s also a group trying to take over the brand, similar to the efforts seen following YIFY’s demise.As with narcotics enforcement, my belief is that torrent sites will not go away for as long as there is demand for their, ah, warez. Just as dozens of mirror sites for Kickass Torrents have sprouted up, there is much additional evidence that torrent sites simply don't die. The Pirate Bay is up and running again is a slightly different guise. Demonoid is back too, this time with a Palau domain [!]
For example, the operator of Kickass.la sent an email to several reporters promoting a new KAT address. In a follow-up, we were told that the site is an “official backup,” and that a copy of the database is in their possession. However, the site appears to be little more than a partial copy and the person behind it later admitted that they are not related to KAT.
Only adding to the confusion are the many other copies and alternatives claiming to be the official resurrection of KAT. Some even advertise themselves as such, but most have been available for a longer time as proxy/mirror sites.
Kickasstorrents.to, for example, has been around for a long time, hosting cached pages of the original site. The latter is also true for others, such as Dxtorrent.com. But in any case, there is no true backup with freshly added content available.
Another mirror that has been widely discussed is kickasstorrents.website (which is NOT a project of Isohunt.to, as some reports suggest). Unlike others, the people behind this site are very clear about the fact that they are not related to the original KAT team. Their copy currently lists torrent files from the past one and a half years, but like other mirrors it doesn’t have a working forum or upload functionality.
Old torrent sites don't die; they just reappear elsewhere after a while when the Feds' attention has moved on it seems.