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KickassTorrents meets its maker, alleged founder arrested by US government

The on-again, off-again top torrent site KickassTorrents was shut down after the U.S. government arrested alleged founder Artem Vaulin in Poland last week.

In addition to seizing domain names associated with the site, U.S. authorities charged Vaulin 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, according to a Department of Justice release from Wednesday.

While the U.S. government seized many of KickassTorrents’ domain properties, clones of the site began popping back up within 24 hours, Gizmodo reported.

The criminal complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, and Vaulin was arrested in Poland. The United States “will seek to extradite Vaulin to the United States,” the release said.

“Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials,” Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in the DOJ release. “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.”

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Vaulin allegedly founded the site in 2008, which receives more than 50 million unique users every month. While KickassTorrents is based outside of the United States, the government was able to charge him because one of the site’s servers was located in Chicago.

U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois stressed in the release the toll that copyright infringement takes on the artists and businesses whose livelihood hinges on their creative inventions.

“Vaulin allegedly used the Internet to cause enormous harm to those artists,” Fardon said. “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.”

Updated on 07-25-2016 by Harrison Kaminsky: This story has been updated to reflect news that KickassTorrents clones have been appearing since the U.S. government seized its domains.

Article originally published on 07-23-2016.