June 30, 2009

Swedish Gaming Group Purchases Pirate Bay

The Pirate Bay, one of the world's most popular file sharing sites, will be sold to a Swedish gaming group for 7.8 million dollars, AFP reported.

Global Gaming Factory (GGF) announced on Tuesday it plans to begin paying copyright fees once the deal is completed.

The company released a statement saying: "The listed software company, Global Gaming Factory (GGF), acquires The Pirate Bay website, one of the 100 most visited websites in the world... The purchase (sum) amounts to 60 million kronor, consisting of at least 30 million in cash."

Newly issued shares in GGF will complete the remainder of the payment.

In April, a Swedish court found the four men behind The Pirate Bay guilty of promoting copyright infringement by running the site. They each received a year in prison and were ordered to pay $3.56 million in damages to the movie and recording industry.

GGF stated it wants content providers and copyright owners to get paid for content downloaded from The Pirate Bay, which is currently free of charge and does not pay copyright fees.

GGF chief executive Hans Pandeya said new technology would require users to pay to download films, games and music, but "they will be able to make money" by sharing their files with other users.

Pandeya told the Swedish news agency TT that it might not be so hard to pay top quality for files if the sites users can earn money by sharing them with other downloaders.

The revamped website would generate money via advertising, supplying storage space and helping telecom operators optimize Internet traffic, he said.

Peter Sunde, one of The Pirate Bay founders, agreed it was time for the site to get fresh impetus from new owners.

Sunde told TT his group no longer felt they could take The Pirate Bay any further.

"We're in a bit of a frozen situation where there's not much happening and there are neither people nor money to develop things," he said.

He added that the sale would mean things could go into a new gear for The Pirate Bay.

Sunde said The Pirate Bay was not linked to the damages the court ordered the four men to pay, and said the money would not reach their pockets, but would be used to create a fund to develop other Internet projects.

During a time when many countries are trying to hammer out legislation on Internet file sharing, the guilty verdict handed down against the three founders of the site and their main financier made headlines around the world.

The Pirate Bay, which was founded in 2003 and claims to have some 22 million users worldwide, makes it possible to skirt copyright fees and share music, film and computer game files using bit torrent technology, or peer-to-peer links that the site makes available to its users.

However, none of the material can be found on The Pirate Bay server itself.

The four founders of the site have appealed the guilty verdict, but no date has been set for the appeals trial.

Many analysts compared the sites sale to Napster, an online file-sharing site that quickly lost popularity after it started to charge its users.

"It looks like they are going to Napsterize it," said Leigh Ellis, intellectual property partner at Gillhams Solicitors.


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