On Wednesday, federal officials apprehended the man behind the planet’s largest BitTorrent website, the 30-year-old Artem Vaulin from Ukraine. Reportedly, the KickassTorrents mastermind, was taken into custody in Poland.
He currently faces formal charges with several counts of conspiracy to money laundering and copyright infringement and a couple of counts of copyright infringement in the U.S.
Yet, placing Vaulin behind bars may not be easy, as his site just like the now-defunct The Pirate Bay only distributes links to content via torrent and magnet links. Users can access these links and be able to download movies, TV shows, digital books, and games from other KickassTorrents users.
The Department of Justice said yesterday that it would seek to extradite the offender to the U.S. Currently, Vaulin is under arrest in Poland. According to DOJ, the KAT founder ran an illegal website which shared over $1 billion unauthorized copies of copyrighted material.
Assistant Attorney General Caldwell explained that the suspect intentionally kept the files on servers outside the U.S. to “evade law enforcement” and changed domain names to evade lawsuits and seizures.
Caldwell concluded that online criminals can run but cannot hide from the long arm of the law. And Vaulin’s arrest in Poland has just proven it.
Homeland security special agent Jared Der-Yeghiayan, who had been a key witness in the Silk Road trial, drafted a long affidavit on KAT and its founder. Reportedly, the site’s managers pledged to comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Yet, whenever a film studio submitted a take-down request for a specific file under the DMCA, the site told them that their request couldn’t be processed because they provided no evidence that they were the copyright holder, the request targeted more than 30 torrents, the content was located on a different site etc.
According to the affidavit, KAT yielded over $16 million in ad revenue every year. Reportedly an undercover federal agent bought an ad on the site for $300 per day. A KAT employee asked him to transfer the money to a Latvian bank account but ensure that KAT name didn’t appear anywhere.
After five days, the agent wanted to buy another ad but KAT representatives told him that they were out of faster download ads. So they presented him a $1,000-per-day banner. After one month, the bank account moved to Estonia. Federal agents were able to track the site’s previous bank transactions thanks to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
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