Internet cafe company offers $7.8 million for The Pirate Bay
The owners of The Pirate Bay have agreed to sell the site to a Swedish Internet cafe operator for 60 million Swedish kronor (US$7.8 million), the company said on Tuesday.
Global Gaming Factory X (GGF) said it wants to find ways to pay content providers and copyright holders when their content is downloaded via The Pirate Bay, which tracks who is sharing files over the BitTorrent peer-to-peer service.
Although The Pirate Bay has been successful in attracting visitors, in order to live on it needs a new business model that satisfies the requirements of content providers, broadband operators, end users, and the judiciary, GGF said.
Details on how it will turn The Pirate Bay from the entertainment industry's worst enemy to a partner remain sketchy. So far GGF hasn't got any deals with either movie or music companies, CEO Hans Pandeya said during a news conference.
However, the company will have a system that will allow copyright owners to charge for their content: it will then be up to them if they want to get paid for it or not, Pandeya said.
The company will also allow filesharers to make money by letting others use their hard drives for storage, and will charge operators for helping them manage the huge amount of traffic that today is generated by Pirate Bay users, Pandeya said.
GGF also plans to acquire Swedish company Peerialism, which has developed its own P-to-P technology, for 100 million kronor -- of which at least 50 million will be in cash and up to the equivalent of 50 million in newly issued shares, according to GGF.
At least half of the 60 million kronor for The Pirate Bay will also be paid in cash, the rest in shares, GGF said.
The money will be used for "Internet-related projects in the shape of political activism," Peter Sunde, spokesman for The Pirate Bay, told Computer Sweden's Daniel Goldberg in an interview via Twitter.
Sunde said he and the site's other founders won't receive any money. Ownership of the site was transferred to others in 2006, according to Sunde, who for legal reasons doesn't want to say who the current owners are.
GGF will take over operations and responsibility for the site when the transaction closes. It expects that to happen in August, subject to a number of closing conditions. The company has to obtain financing, which it plans to do by issuing new shares.
The Pirate Bay tried to reassure users with a blog posting: "A lot of people are worried. We're not and you shouldn't be either!"
"The site has to evolve if it is to survive," said the posting. "This is the best option for all."
But reactions from users are mostly negative. "Have defended you to the end, and you just let us all down," user LuciferX wrote in response to the blog posting. Other users chimed in: "Way to sell out for the money," said driver779, while Mith0s wrote: "I'd say this is the death of PirateBay."
Many users are also drawing parallels with the fate of Napster, another filesharing site that went commercial: The new owners will kill the site the same way Napster was butchered, wrote elpuellodiablo.
The Pirate Bay site and the people behind it have been under increasing legal pressure. In April Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Carl Lundström were sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay damages of 30 million Swedish kronor (US$3.9 million). Last week the judge in that case was cleared of accusations of bias.
Movie and music companies have also tried to stop the site by taking telecommunications operators to court in Denmark, Italy and, most recently, Norway. In Denmark they have been successful, so far, but their efforts to block access to the site in Italy failed. A court case is also brewing in the Netherlands.