Kickass downloads might be suspended in the next months to come. The site's alleged 30-year-old founder, Artem Vaulin, was arrested Wednesday in Poland and the US government had seized all of the domain names related to the website.
KickassTorrents (KAT) is one of the biggest torrent sites in the world, hosting thousands of pirated movies, music albums, video games and more. Now, federal authorities seek to extradite Vaulin, the site's alleged founder, to the United States.
The website was launched in 2008. Variety reported it has more than $1 billion worth of copyrighted materials. The recent movies that are downloadable in the site are "Now You See Me 2," "Captain America: Civil War," "Independence Day: Resurgence," and "Finding Dory."
Prosecutors have formally charged Vaulin with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, two counts of criminal copyright infringement and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
As of this writing, the main KickassTorrents site is inaccessible worldwide.
In order to arrest Vaulain, an IRS agent went undercover to purchase an ad on KAT in March 2016 at the rate of $300 per day. The agent also talked about his transaction with KAT representative named, "Mr. White." After giving details for a Latvia bank account, Mr. White said the agent should not mention KAT anywhere to avoid unnecessary problems.
Venture Beat says KAT has more than 50 million monthly visitors and is estimated to be the 69th most visited website on the Internet. In addition, the pirate website operates in more than 28 languages, generates an estimated $13.5 million to $22 million yearly in advertising and has a net worth of more than $54 million.
Aside from the main website of KAT, federal authorities in Chicago also seized the domains of kastatic.com, kickass.so, thekat.tv, kat.ph, kickass.to and kickass.so.
It is not yet clear if KAT website stays down or not, but tech experts say users will only shift to other torrents sites if KAT is down for long enough. In the past several years, FBI has been shutting down pirate websites. However, despite several raids and arrests of its organizers, many pirate websites are still running today.
In 2012, authorities seized Megaupload.com, which allegedly holds more than $500 million copyrighted materials. However, its owner Kim Dotcom claims he is going to relaunch the website next year. In addition, the Pirate Bay remains accessible to users even though authorities have repeatedly arrested its founders.