In the most dramatic turn of events since the raid of The Pirate Bay in December 2014, KickassTorrents went dark yesterday.
Previously the world’s largest torrent site, KAT shut down following the arrest of its alleged founder. Artem Vaulin, a 30-year-old from Ukraine, was arrested in Poland after his entire operation had been well and truly compromised by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
When large sites are raided it is common for other sites in a similar niche to consider their positions. This phenomenon was illustrated perfectly when the 2012 raids on Megaupload resulted in sites such as BTjunkie taking the decision to shut down.
At this point, most other torrent sites seem fairly stable but there appears to have been at least one ‘pirate’ casualty following yesterday’s drama.
For many years, Solarmovie has been one of the most visible and visited ‘pirate’ streaming portals. Like many others, the site has had its fair share of domain issues, starting out at .COM and more recently ending up at .PH. However, sometime during the past few hours, Solarmovie disappeared.
No official announcement concerning the site’s fate has been made but it’s clear from the criminal complaint filed against KickassTorrents that Artem Vaulin had close connections to Solarmovie.
As reported yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security obtained a copy of KickassTorrents’ servers from its Canadian host and also gained access to the site’s servers in Chicago. While conducting his inquiries, the Special Agent handling the case spotted an email address for the person responsible for renting KAT’s servers.
Further investigation of Vaulin’s Apple email account showed the Ukrainian corresponding with this person back in 2010.
“The subject of the email was ‘US Server’ and stated: ‘Hello, here is access to the new server’ followed by a private and public IP address located in Washington DC, along with the user name ‘root’ and a password,” the complaint reveals.
Perhaps tellingly, the IP address provided by this individual to Vaulin was found to have hosted Solarmovie.com from August 2010 through to April 2011. Furthermore, up until just last month, the IP address was just one away from an IP address used to host KickassTorrents.
“As of on or about June 27, 2016, one of the IP addresses hosting solarmovie.ph was one IP address away (18.104.22.168) from an IP address that was being used to host KAT (22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199),” the complaint adds.
While none of the above is proof alone that Vaulin was, for example, the owner of Solarmovie, it’s clear that at some point he at least had some connections with the site or its operator.
On the other hand, in torrent and streaming circles it’s common for people to use services already being used by others they know and trust, so that might provide an explanation for the recent IP address proximity.
In any event, last night’s shutdown of Solarmovie probably indicates that the heat in the kitchen has become just a little too much. Expect more fallout in the days to come.