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Torrent Giants Kickass Torrents And Torrentz.eu Shut Down

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

The bittorrenting community has suffered two huge setbacks in late July and early August. Kickass Torrents (KAT), unarguably one of the biggest torrenting sites on the internet receiving well over a million visitors every day; and Torrentz.eu, the most popular torrent meta-search engine on the web; both went offline within a fortnight of one another. While KAT was shut down by the FBI, Torrentz.eu decided to down its shutters voluntarily. And as if this was not enough, popular streaming site Solarmovie went offline as well due to its alleged connections with KAT.

Kickass Torrents was shut down when it’s alleged owner, 30 year old Artem Vaulin from Ukraine; was arrested in Poland. In addition to arresting Artem and shutting down the main domain (KAT.cr) of KAT, the authorities seized several other domain names as well as a bank account associated with the site’s operations. Following the operation, the attorney of US Department of Justice claimed that Kickass Torrents was worth $54 million and the site was earning anywhere between $12.5 million to $22.3 million per year in advertising revenues alone. Artem was charged with money laundering and distribution of over $1 billion worth of pirated content, including movies, software, music and games; and he is currently fighting extradition to United States.

While Kickass Torrents had rented servers around the world (including some in Chicago) to prevent downtimes and seizure by Feds, it was the Artem’s US connections that eventually led to the site’s downfall. As per the details provided by the authorities, the Feds first posed as advertisers interested in posting advertisements on the KAT website. After getting bank account details from KAT’s support staff, the Feds were able to link that account with an iTunes transactions. When Apple was served the notice, the company quickly revealed the IP address associated with the transaction. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the same IP address was used to log into the Facebook page of KAT on the day of transaction. The IP address was traced back to Artem and he was swiftly arrested while he was visiting Poland.

No sooner than Kickass Torrents went down, many copies of the site appeared on the web; including one by the group that had created a clone Isohunt in the past. However, most of the KAT clones were found to be fake and some of them were created just to distribute malware or to steal financial information from their visitors. The Feds were no doubt anticipating the rise of KAT clones which is why they were quick to shut down some clone sites as well.

A few days after KAT went down, the operators of Torrentz.eu decided to shut down the site voluntarily. While the site did not host any torrents, it provided a great way to search for them from dozens of bittorrenting websites. Although it is not clear what prompted the site’s closure, the operators may have decided to call it a day after seeing what happened to Artem Vaulin. Torrentz.eu was reported to the US authorities by both RIAA and MPAA so an action similar to KAT was perhaps on the horizon. Whatever be the reason, the closure of these two icons has left a big void within the bittorrenting community.

March 12, 2017

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