A Glimpse at The Pirate Bay’s Uncertain Future

Opinion

After Global Gaming Factory X announced that it intends to buy The Pirate Bay for $7.8 million, the CEO of the company bombarded the press with his revolutionary plans for the site. By paying both the copyright holders and file-sharers the company aims to reshape the digital media landscape. We have our doubts.

The sale of the largest BitTorrent tracker in the world to Global Gaming Factory X (GGF) blasted like a shockwave though the BitTorrent community yesterday. For years The Pirate Bay has been a synonym for free file-sharing, something that many fear will change in the near future.

However, thus far GGF’s plans for the site and tracker are rather vague and uncertain. First of all there is a huge divide between what the Pirate Bay co-founders think will happen to the site and what GGF is telling the public.

TorrentFreak has spoken with Pirate Bay co-founders Peter Sunde and Fredrik Neij who both think that the Pirate Bay will stay pretty much like it is now for the time being. The only difference in the short term, according to their knowledge, is that the site will link to torrents hosted on a third party domain tracked by a third party tracker.

Both the torrent hosting service and the tracker they are referring to are still in development, the co-founders said. They are not aware of any concrete plans to turn the site into a legal venture. In an attempt to find out we asked GGF to elaborate on their future plans and the response we got was remarkable.

GFF told us that most of their recent comments to the press were nothing more than “corporate bla bla.”

So let’s take a look at some of the bla bla that surfaced in the past day, to see if it makes any sense at all. Here are some of the key proposals.

1. The new Pirate Bay will put a halt to illegal downloading.
2. The Pirate Bay will compensate rights holders who publish their content on the site
3. The Pirate Bay will pay users for sharing files.

This sounds very impressive but, to put it mildly, it raises a few concerns.

It’s basically the same as saying that iTunes would pay its users to share music. When GGF has to pay both file-sharers and content providers they will undoubtedly have to raise huge sums money from a third party. So what is going to bring in this cash?

Ads of course! GGF is predicting to sell ads like no other website in the world has ever done. They told BusinessWeek that they hope to make as much as $672 million a year from advertisements.

GGF is also planning to raise money from ISPs. Theoretically ISPs might be willing to contribute because they could save on bandwidth costs if most of the files are served locally or directly from caching services, but it wont be enough. Also, they assume that The Pirate Bay will generate a significant portion of Internet traffic once they go ‘legal’, which is doubtful.

An even more significant problem is keeping the current users on board and cutting deals with content providers, all at the same time. This is an almost impossible task since copyright holders will only join if there is no illegal content on the site, and users will only stay if there is enough free and unrestricted DRM-free content available.

This means that GGF has to cut deals with pretty much every large music and movie studio from the start to have even a chance of survival. Even if they manage that, they also have to collect millions of dollars to compensate both the users and copyright holders.

Nevertheless, only hours after they announced they would acquire The Pirate Bay, GGF claimed that the entertainment companies they’ve spoken to are already interested in teaming up with the site they fought long and hard in court. Perhaps the Big Four are more open-minded than we expected – maybe GGF will draw on the business relationship it built with Vivendi in 2007?

No further explanation is needed to see that the bright future GGF is selling will never happen. Their plans seem to be completely delusional, at least in this world, and it’s even a mystery where they will get the $7.8 million funding to actually buy the site. If they ever will….

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