For more than five years the largest BitTorrent tracker on the Internet has been been operated informally by a small group of friends. This will soon change as Global Gaming Factory takes over the ship to explore seas unknown. TorrentFreak caught up with Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde to review the past week’s events and to look ahead to the future.
Founded in 2003, the initial goal of the Pirate Bay founders was to build the first Scandinavian BitTorrent community. However, with an increasing interest from users in other parts of the world, they decided to expand their horizon and made the site available in multiple languages a year after it was launched.
From then on The Pirate Bay quickly became the largest BitTorrent tracker on the entire Internet, responsible for the communication between millions of BitTorrent users at any given time of the day. Up until today they have continued to do so in a rather unorganized fashion, but that is all about to change.
This Monday the relatively unknown Global Gaming Factory (GGF) announced that it will acquire The Pirate Bay for $7.8 million. Provided that the shareholders agree and that GGF manages to raise the necessary funding to complete the sale, The Pirate Bay will be in new hands. Undoubtedly, this announcement resulted in a tidal wave of media coverage.
It’s been nearly a week since the sale to GGF was announced so TorrentFreak took the opportunity to catch up with departing Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde to look back at the last few turbulent days and to find out what the future holds for him.
TF: Were you surprised by the negative responses to the sale?
Peter: Not really surprised, but overwhelmed anyhow. The pressure of this thing has been enormous, and not a lot of people think it’s fair for us to take a break from things. I can appreciate that a lot of people put their support and hopes in us and we’re really happy that we’ve made an impact that allows people to do that. At the same time, we’re only human and can’t keep up with everything. The Pirate Bay needs to change or it will die by itself.
TF: Hundreds of media outlets have covered the news, but it is not entirely clear what is actually being sold to GGF. Can you enlighten us?
Peter: GGF is buying the domain names for thepiratebay (under all the tlds they exist). They also get a copy of the code and the database. The database includes no logs (there’s never been any logs) and there’s no personal details stored anywhere.
TF: GGF’s future plans for the site are still very vague, but they announced that “illegal downloading” will he halted once they own the site. What’s your opinion on this?
Peter: Well, that depends on how you look at it. GGF aren’t stupid, they know that if they only allowed pre-scanned content the site is worthless. Illegal downloading? Well, torrents aren’t illegal, it could potentially lead to copyright being broken though. But don’t underestimate them. They have had a hard time in the media, which they’re not used to being in. It’s all new for them – all of a sudden BBC, CNN, all local media in Sweden and so on just hammer them with questions. It’s probably hard to answer in the beginning. But they’re not as stupid as they’ve been portrayed.
TF: How do you think The Pirate Bay will look like a year from now?
Peter: No idea really. A guess would be an updated logo, new skin for the site, some changes in features but still the same basic concept.
TF: Will you or any of the other Pirate Bay co-founders be involved in the Pirate Bay site once it’s sold?
Peter: As it looks right now, no.
TF: Will the old Pirate Bay team still be working on (new) BitTorrent related projects?
Peter: We’re working hard on other things right now, especially with The Video Bay and some of our personal projects.
TF: The money generated by the sale will go to an unnamed foundation. Can you tell us a little bit about the foundation that receives the money? Are they working on any interesting projects?
Peter: The foundation is interested in more political means than technical. Having money will make it work quite hard, but there’s nothing to present yet. A lot of projects are in the pipe-line though.
TF: What does the BitTorrent community need the most to continue being the mainstream P2P protocol?
Peter: More trackers, less centralized systems and more people standing up for the community.
For the founders of the site the sale is certainly the end of an era and they deserve credit for all the work they’ve done thus far. We will watch closely to what happens with The Pirate Bay in the future but BitTorrent is here to stay with or without it.