The Swedish government can't find any assets with which to make The Pirate Bay defendants pay up, and its attempt to shut down TPB's ISP lasted only a matter of hours. Meanwhile, the sale of the site appears to be in jeopardy.
The Pirate Bay saga, long a comic tale involving "spectrials," repainted city buses, police raids, and political parties, seems at last to have descended fully into farce. The media companies that brought suit against The Pirate Bay have found themselves up against a slippery opponent, one perfectly willing to argue that taking down the site amounts to an abuse of "human rights," but it's tough to imagine that they thought the battle would be quite this difficult.
Case in point: the Stockholm District Court, which oversaw The Pirate Bay trial earlier this year, has acted on Big Content's motion to shut down the site by today ordering Black Internet, one of The Pirate Bay's ISPs, to stop serving the site. It did so, but after a matter of hours, the site appears to be back. Swedish Pirate Party leader Richard Falkvinge called the court's decision "a fucking outrage."
Big Content has also gone to the country's government-operated debt collector, the Kronofogdemyndigheten, seeking its 30 million kronor (SEK) damage award. Unfortunately for the record labels and movie studios, Kronofogdemyndigheten has concluded that the defendants have no "attachable assets" (in Sweden, at any rate) that can be recovered to pay the fine. (Carl Lundstrom, the independently wealthy defendant who is heir to a cracker/biscuit fortune, certainly has money, but it appears to be in Switzerland. Whether the other defendants have money outside the country is unclear, though they have always claimed to make little or nothing from The Pirate Bay.)
The deal that might provide such assets, a buyout offer of SEK60 million from Global Gaming Foundry, is mired in problems. The company's chairman quit this week amid reports that GGF could not come up with the cash, that it was misstating the facts surrounding its negotiations, and that some insider trading of its stock might be taking place. The company's stock has been suspended from trading for the second time in the last three months, though GGF still says that it will present the buyout plan to its board this Thursday.
But who might GGF even buy the site from? The Pirate Bay defendants say that they transferred control to another company in 2006, which then transferred or sold ownership to a Seychelles-based company called Reservella. Ars has been able to confirm that "Reservella" was in fact registered in the Seychelles by the Mayfair Trust Group, a company which often sets up offshore corporations for others, though Mayfair would say nothing about the real owners. Everything about the deal suggests that The Pirate Bay defendants are still involved—including the fact that they still run the site, they were the ones who set up the negotiations with GGF, and they were the ones who explained the decision to sell.
Kronofogdemyndigheten's report, however, said that it could find no evidence that Reservella was a mere dummy corporation meant only to conceal ownership.