Well well well, not just one Pirate Bay story but four. What’s in the news – well, first and foremost The Pirate Bay website did momentarily go off line on the 25th August, no doubt to gasps of relief from the music and film industries, but perhaps unsurprisingly (and as promised by the owners) the BitTorrent site was back online this morning. The removal of the service was the result of a decision of the Swedish district court which ordered Black Internet to stop servicing The Pirate Bay – the court order was complied with in the face of a 500,000 Kroner fine – but the victory was short lived and within twenty four hours it seems to be “service as normal” although not through Blacks.
Secondly, the hunt for money goes on. As readers are probably aware, the four Pirate Bay founders, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, Fredrik Neij, Gottfried Svartholm Warg, and Carl Lundstrom, lost a major Swedish court case in April (reported on this blog) when they were found guilty of copyright violations and were fined and face jail sentences. In a second story from Sweden it appears that Sweden’s government run debt-collection agency, commonly referred to as the bailiff, said it could find no attachable assets belonging to three of the four founders of the site (Neij, Warg, and Lundstrom). The Claimants in the case, a group of content and media owners, had asked the bailiff to collect the $4 million a court had awarded them after finding the four Pirate Bay founders guilty of copyright violations. But so far no damages and no jail as the four defendants are appealing the one year jail sentences handed down at the trial.
Elsewhere in pirate news, there is ongoing uncertainty around the E5.8 million ($8 million) sale of the Pirate Bay to Global Gaming Factory, something I find hard to imagine happening – particularly when the original Napster sale resulted in multi million pound settlements subsequent to its relaunch as a ‘legal’ site. Trading in GGF shares on the Swedish stock market were suspended and reports said that the company’s chairman Magnus Bergman has resigned. However, the company’s CEO Hans Pandeya maintained that the suspension was not a problem saying “The Aktietorget [the Swedish stock market] said they wanted more information on investors, which we said we would release after the acquisition. There are risks and possible lawsuits, and this makes people nervous. None [of the investors] wants to give out their details, otherwise the media will attack them. You are not supposed to buy an illegal site. This is out-of-the-box thinking. Because it is unconventional it is viewed with uncertainty by Swedish culture, even if I don’t view it that way. Because of that, [the bankers investigating the sale] want details and 100% assurances, but in business that is not always something you can get” adding he couldn’t comment on Bergman’s departure but that the Chairman was expected to have stepped down in the near future in all events. Well if the sale does go through I imagine the content industry hope that there will be at least $8 million in ‘assets’ for the bailiff to chase …
Finally to Eire: at the end of last month, the High Court ordered ISP Eircom to block access to The Pirate Bay – good news for content owners you might think … well maybe. The Major labels had clearly been hoping that in light of the court’s decision other broadband providers would follow suit and that the major ISPs, notably UPC and BT Ireland, would volunteer for a similar block. But UPC Ireland says it has refused and now the labels are seeking an interim injunction forcing it to block access to the Pirate Bay. UPC ran the fairly predictable response saying “we cannot and will not meet demands from private parties that we restrict access to certain content of the internet. To agree to such a move would be to change the nature of an ISP from a communications provider to being a gatekeeper that censors the material its users can access. We believe that censorship such as this should not be agreed upon by private parties but that it is a matter for the courts and other state bodies.”
The Swedish Pirate Party polled 7.1% of the vote in the recent European elections.