Kickass torrent “mastermind” arrested

arrestUS coppers claim to have arrested the “mastermind” of KickassTorrents (KAT) which is one of the largest BitTorrent distribution sites.

When we looked this morning the site was still up so we are not sure if  Artem Vaulin, 30, of Ukraine’s alleged mastermind status was incorrect or if the site is being run by his minions.

Vaulin 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.

Vaulin was arrested in Poland and the DOJ will shortly seek his extradition to the United States.

Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said that Vaulin was charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials.

“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.”

What appears to have miffed Hollywood was that Vaulin did actually have method of dealing with DMCA violations. Hollywood studios would send their complaint and demand that the content be removed from the site and they would get a note back which said the following:

Greetings,
Your request has been reviewed, but cannot be processed due to one (or
more) of the following reasons:
1) The Claim wasn’t written in English language;
2) You provided no evidence showing that you are the copyright holder
or that you are acting on behalf of the copyright holder;
3) You provided no evidence showing that the content is legally
copyrighted;
4) There were more then [sic] 30 torrents mentioned in the Claim email;
5) Your content is hosted on a different website.
Please, make sure to fulfill all the conditions mentioned above before
sending a claim.
You can find more detailed information regarding the DMCA email
layout via the following article – https://kat.cr/dmca/
Respectfully,
KAT team
Keeping mum

It has been estimated that the sites annual advertising revenue as being more than $16 million per year as of 2016 although those figures are nearly always presented to the media hyped beyond belief. In this case they are based on the fact that an  undercover IRS agent purchased an ad on KAT in March 2016 at the rate of $300 per day.

The KAT representative provided details for a Latvian bank but warned the American buyer to “make sure that you don’t mention KAT anywhere.”

HSI and IRS looked into the historical hosting records of KAT and found that for about 3.5 years, ending in January 2016, the operation was hosted out of Chicago, Illinois, which explains why the case is now being prosecuted out of the Northern District of Illinois. The site also used a Canadian hosting service—the two American agencies also used MLAT to get an image of the Canadian server.

More interesting was that the fruity cargo cult Apple, which normally does not turn over data on terrorists  provided a copy of Vaulin’s e-mail account (tirm@me.com), which included other incriminating information that establishes probable cause of a criminal conspiracy. So it looks like Apple’s privacy morals stop when it comes to crimes against its chums in Hollywood.