Two days after the Pirate Bay announced their to-hell-with-the-copyright video service the last thing we were all expecting was for Peter Sunde and Co. to cash in their legendary download service. But they have.
All the comments I’ve read about the story have been on how the dream is over and that the founders of one of busiest sites on the web has sold its community up the river, but not so, say I and to prove so, here’s five reasons why the Pirate Bay was right to sell to Global Gaming Factory, if only for £4.7m:
1) It’s legal
With all the announcements around Digital Britain and the constant threats from lawyers and copyright infringement watchdogs, one might have thought it would come as a bit of a relief that you can download anything you want without having to worry about huge fines, bandwidth throttling or jail time?
What’s more, just because it’s legal, that doesn’t mean to say that it’s not going to be free. There’s been no official word from GGF but we do know that the Pirate Bay founders (perhaps we should forever refer to them as the Founders?) went to great lengths to ensure that their buyers had the right ethos.
If the site really does get as much traffic as they say, then it sounds like GGF can afford to run it with no subscription cost for the display advertising alone, even if they’re not prepared to get any more inventive than that. So, legal and very probably free. Sounds ok to me.
2) Seeders get paid
GGF has realised that they’re going to need something special to win the PB community’s trust and to keep them coming back for more. So they’re prepared to go one better than offering a free service and that’s by actually paying people to host content.
I’ve always slightly begrudged the quite reasonable no leeching policy so at least next time my internet connection drops through the floor and I can’t even search Google without it taking three days to load the page, at least then I’ll know that there’s cash in the bank for my pains.
3) ISP calming
GGF is looking into developing technology to make power-grids of P2P computers taking the load further off ISPs than they already will be doing by decentralising downloads in the first place. I can’t stand the whinging of the ISPs whether it’s about iPlayer or any other service. It’s not our business to look into the future of data usage and charge accordingly but it is theirs and if they’ve made some errors then that’s their problem.
So, if the ISPs problems are eased and their whinging silenced, then I’m a much happier man.
4) Artists get paid
The one slight pang of guilt from file sharing is that the artists don’t get paid. They’re the good guys in all this. We love what they do and they should be rewarded. The good thing now is that GGF will pay for having licensed music and movies on the network, so that’s exaclty what will happen.
We don’t know, as yet, whether that’ll be done on a per download basis or a flat fee but I don’t suppose that matters. Sadly, “artists” getting paid is very often a cloak for the fat cats getting their cream but at least this should shut the whisker lickers up along with the ISPs.
5) The Founders deserve some cash
They’ve created something incredible and fought the good fight balls out for as long as I can remember. You tell me they don’t deserve their pay day.
I appreciate that it’s not the most obvious of buys but, for one of the 100 most visited sites on the web, £4.7 million is not a lot of cash. Why? Well, one reason is because the Founders wanted to sell to the right people and, in my book, that’s enough to leave their reputation clean.
They could do with some revenue to help pay the £2.3m damages for the lost court case and can use the change to start proceedings against Sweden for the violation of human rights.
For all my reasons, all five of them, I’m still slightly gutted they’ve sold up. The Pirate Bay was one of the last outposts of the first age of the web – the age of the user. As much as GGF may have much of its heart in the right place, the idea of a piracy service being 100% legal just doesn’t sit right.
We’ll no longer be able to raise that skull and crossbones high but, more to the point, if it’s not legal, we won’t be able to get all the wonderful hacked, cracked and stacked software before it’s even on official relase. And that was half the fun of it in the first place.
My last thought though, the last chink if light, is about the Video Bay. Is that part of the deal or is it a strategically placed new arena for the founders to take the fight?