The world’s largest illegal file sharing website may have come to its end. U.S. authorities announced on Wednesday that they have seized the domains of Kickass Torrents and charged the alleged owner with copyright infringement.
The man charged with infringement, 30-year-old Artem Vaulin, is originally from Kharkiv in Ukraine. He was arrested in Poland, and American officials are now looking to extradite Vaulin to the U.S. Authorities estimate the site distributed over $1 billion worth of copyrighted content.
Kickass Torrents is huge. According to the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, the site received over 50 million monthly visitors and was the 69th most visited site on the internet. Annual advertising revenue was estimated at up to a staggering $22.3 million.
“Copyright infringement exacts a large toll, a very human one, on the artists and businesses whose livelihood hinges on their creative inventions,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon from the northern district of Illinois. “Vaulin allegedly used the Internet to cause enormous harm to those artists. Our Cybercrimes Unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago will continue to work with our law enforcement partners around the globe to identify, investigate and prosecute those who attempt to illegally profit from the innovation of others.”
It hasn’t been an easy ride for the torrent site. In April, Firefox and Google Chrome updated their security settings to block access to the site, arguing that the site was infested with malware. It later emerged that the block was triggered by a phishing link posted to the site’s forum community.