Turning criminals into law-abiding customers is always a dicey business, made even more so when easy thievery was your company's primary reason to exist. That's the challenge facing the "new" Pirate Bay as the file sharing site tries going legit.
Put another way: What's Pirate Bay without the piracy? Not much.
"We would like to introduce models which entail that content providers and copyright owners get paid for content that is downloaded via the site," said Pirate Bay's new owners in a statement.
A Swedish company, Global Gaming Factory X, announced today that it was purchasing Pirate Bay for $7.7 million with plans to turn the file-sharing site into a legitimate business.
How easy will this be? My colleague Daniel Ionescu took a measure of reactions from Pirate Bay users, and isn't very upbeat about the site's chances.
I stay away from associating with people who steal stuff, so I just look to history for the answer.
Remember Napster, the original "we're not supporting theft of copyrighted material site"? Sure you remember, but have you thought about Napster lately? Didn’t think so, but the site is still in operating, selling downloads and streaming music at discount prices.
I wouldn’t go near Napster--legit or not--with a ten-foot pole. I don't want to support such a brand, given its history. And I feel the same way about Pirate Bay, whose four founders sit in a Swedish jail, presumably thinking about what they will do with the money they are getting from selling the site.
Presumably, they will pay $3.6 million in fines that they face, followed by some huge legal fees, which continue to mount while their appeals roll forward. They started their one-year, slap on the wrist, sentences in April.
Meanwhile, as Pirate Bay tries making deals that will allow it to offer content legally, I'd have to guess that the pirated content, estimated to be about 90 percent of the site, would disappear. When that happens, current users will take their criminality elsewhere.
Honest people, like you and me, don't get a thrill from supporting convicts, even Swedish ones, so we won't make the "new" Pirate Bay our destination. There are too many legal ways for honest people to get online content.
I'll be happy when Pirate Bay just falls over dead. Crime should not pay.
David Coursey tweets as techinciter and can be reached using the contact form at www.coursey.com/contact. Need we mention that he is not a Pirate Bay member?