Update 07/22/16: Similar to what happened with The Pirate Bay, various Kickass Torrents clones have surfaced online, mirroring the original website’s database.
It’s hard out there for an intellectual property pirate.
The Pirate Bay, despite returning just a few months ago, is a shadow of its former self, encouraging many Torrent users, as well as former Pirate Bay moderators, to jump ship and begin using Kickass Torrent as their primary source when it comes to downloading the latest episode of Game of Thrones.
However, it looks like Kickass Torrents’ reign as the top piracy source around was short lived. 30-year-old Artem Vaulin, apparently the owner of Kickass Torrents, made a collection of minor mistakes that eventually lead to his arrest and Kickass has now been seized by U.S. federal authorities.
Since companies like Apple and Facebook have little issue with turning over a user’s IP address when presented with a court order, authorities knew exactly where to look. Vaulin was reportedly operating a Kickass Torrents Facebook page with his real email and without masking his IP address.
The email address Vaulin signed up for Facebook with was linked to an @me.com email, which is an email service owned by Apple. Next, authorities went to Apple and asked the tech giant to turn over data related to Vaulin’s email address. Since he recently made an iTunes purchase linked to this email account, which is in turn connected to his real-world credit card, it was easy for authorities to learn his true identity.
“Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell in a statement. “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.”
While only a sequence of minor oversights many of us likely make on a daily basis, this collection of missteps ultimately led to Vaulin’s true identity being uncovered, according to the U.S. department of Justice.
The Silk Road’s founder Ross Ulbricht found himself in a similar situation after asking ToR related questions in Stack Overflow, a minor oversight that become a pivotal point in the lengthy court case that eventually led to a live in prison sentence in the United States.