The Pirate Bay’s shot at legitimacy may be over before it even began, as Swedish firm Global Gaming Factory hasn’t produced enough money to buy the legendary torrent tracking site.
GGF has a week to come up with $7.8 million, TorrentFreak reports, but that seems unlikely as the company’s key business relationship is crumbling. Wayne Rosso, the former Grokster CEO who joined the new Pirate Bay to broker deals with the music industry, has already jumped ship. He told TorrentFreak that GGF wasn’t coming through on several promises, and has yet to pay him or his partners.
Really, though, the idea of a legal Pirate Bay, revealed in late June, seemed far-fetched from the start. GGF was hoping that The Pirate Bay’s user base could be tapped for extra bandwidth, which would be sold to Internet service providers. This would generate revenue for the site, but it would also subsidize users’ membership fees. Rosso was working on bringing the music industry on board, so users could download all they wanted.
The problem, as many have pointed out, is that a bandwidth-sharing scheme assumes The Pirate Bay has a critical mass of users. But illicit-file-sharers are a fickle lot, more loyal to the idea downloading free music, movies, and software than to the site that had served them for so long. Pirate Bay has no certainty of heavy traffic — never mind the fact its new business plan is unique and untested.
Rosso said the enthusiasm from at least one label was encouraging, but it seems the concept will have to wait for another day. As for The Pirate Bay, it’s not clear what will happen to the site if the sale indeed falls through. The Pirate Bay’s founders are fighting to keep the site running while its legal battle continues on appeal, but the damage to its reputation — as a place to get content illegally, mind you — won’t easily wash away.
Here was a site that once made a point of publicly ridiculing copyright lawyers and content owners for sending takedown notices, and had mocked the Swedish court system during the copyright infringement trial it eventually lost. Trying to cover those court fines by working with the very entities that had sought for years to bury The Pirate Bay was a shocking reversal.
If there is a code of honor in the media piracy underground, it was violated with the GGF deal, and I don’t see how The Pirate Bay can recover.