The Pirate Bay (often abbreviated TPB) is a website that bills itself as "the world's largest BitTorrent tracker" and also serves as an index for .torrent files that it tracks. ranked 97 (as of 10 May, 2008) in the Alexa ranking list and ranked 258 (as of 1 February 2008) by Quantcast.[1] [2] Initially established in November 2003 by the Swedish anti-copyright organization Piratbyrån ('The Piracy Bureau'), it has been operating as a separate organization since October 2004. The site is currently run by Gottfrid Svartholm ("anakata"), Fredrik Neij ("TiAMO") and Peter Sunde ("brokep").Template:Fact

The Pirate Bay is known in the online "file sharing" community as one of the more prominent websites which distributes torrents that point to unlicensed copies of copyrighted material as well as open source free content. In some countries, offering copyrighted torrent media could be considered an illegal inducement of copyright infringement,[3] but in other countries this is not the case.[4] In Sweden, torrent trackers have not been found to be illegal.

On 31 May 2006, the site's servers, located in Stockholm, were raided by Swedish police, causing it to go offline for three days. Upon reopening, the site's number of visitors doubled, the increased popularity attributed to greater exposure through the media coverage. The raid, alleged to be politically motivated and under pressure from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA),[5] was reported as a success by the MPAA in the immediate aftermath, but with the site being restored within days and the raising of the debate in Swedish culture, The Pirate Bay and other commentators considered the raid "highly unsuccessful".[6] On 31 January 2008, Swedish prosecutors filed charges against four of the individuals behind The Pirate Bay.[7]

Legal and cultural backgroundEdit

Main article: File sharing and the law

The debate on peer-to-peer ("P2P") and file sharing is a global phenomenon. Peer-to-peer technology allows people worldwide to share files and data; a large proportion of the data shared is passed freely between users despite being subject to copyright or other restrictions. Different legal systems and different technologies handle this differently. Some of the key background and distinctions relevant to the Pirate Bay's operations are as follows:

  • P2P file sharing is used both legitimately (to distribute with permission or non-copyright materials), and illegitimately (in breach of copyright). It is highly popular and effective, with some estimates being that 15–35% of all Internet traffic is P2P usage in some form or other.
  • In some file sharing systems, the owner of a file share system directly distributes files themselves. In others, notably the technology called BitTorrent, the organizer is not in fact distributing any copyright material. Rather, they act like a cataloger or coordinator, indexing files offered for sharing rather than themselves offering any such material. The data thus shared is called metadata - that is, data about data. The system performing the indexing is called a tracker. A typical Pirate Bay file provides a filename, a location it can be downloaded from, and various checksums which can be used to verify the file's integrity when downloaded. It does not, itself, contain any media material, whether legal or otherwise.
  • In some countries, notably the United States, there is significant legal pressure from industry bodies to outlaw the provision of such information, where it is being used to facilitate or encourage illegal copyright breach. In the legal case MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. it was held that even if a company itself does not violate U.S. copyright law, it can be guilty of inducing or assisting others to do so. However, this is not the law for many other countries, notably several European countries.

Website and serversEdit

The Pirate Bay website allows users to search for and download torrent files ("torrents"), small files that contain the machine-readable information necessary to download the data files from other users. The torrents are organized in the categories: Audio, Video, Software applications, Games, Music, and, for registered users only, Pornography. Registration requires an email address and is free; registered users may upload their own torrents and add comments to torrent descriptions. Downloading of data files from other users is facilitated by the BitTorrent tracker

Old setupEdit

The Pirate Bay's four Linux servers used to run a custom httpd called Hypercube. On 1 June 2005, The Pirate Bay updated its website in an effort to reduce bandwidth usage, which was reported to be at 2,000 HTTP requests per second on each of the four web servers, as well as to create a more user friendly interface for the front-end of the website.

Current setupEdit

Currently TPB runs Lighttpd+PHP on its dynamic front ends, MySQL and MySQL-proxy on the two database back ends, Sphinx on the search system, Memcache for caching SQL queries+PHP-sessions and Varnish in front of Lighttpd for static content. TPB currently consists of 24 dedicated servers including 6 dynamic web fronts, 2 databases and 8 BitTorrent trackers.

Old information on the hardware used by TPB can be found here along with some images taken before the raid.


On 7 December 2007, The Pirate Bay finished the move from Hypercube to Opentracker as its BitTorrent tracking software, also enabling the use of the UDP tracker protocol that Hypercube lacked support for. It is reported that their trackers currently (December 2007) answer about 17,000 announce requests per second.


According to The Pirate Bay's blog, Petter Nilsson donated 35,000 SEK to help support the torrent tracker.[8] Nilsson was a candidate on the Swedish reality show Toppkandidaterna (The Top Candidates), on which young contestants were given the opportunity to experience politics firsthand. The contestants competed at convincing others of the value of their ideas. The winner of the contest then spent their prize money in the pursuit of these ideals. Nilsson won the contest and donated 25.1% of his winnings to The Pirate Bay, which they used to buy new servers.

In April 2007, a long-standing rumour was confirmed on Swedish talk show Bert, namely that Pirate Bay had also received financial support from right-wing entrepreneur Carl Lundström. This caused some furor since Lundström, an heir to the Wasabröd fortune, is known for financing several far-right political parties and movements like Sverigedemokraterna and Bevara Sverige Svenskt (Keep Sweden Swedish). The size of Lundström's contributions is unknown, as are his motives. In the talk show, Pirate Bay speaker Tobias Andersson acknowledged that "without Lundström's support, Pirate Bay would not have been able to start" and claimed that most of the money went towards acquiring servers and bandwidth.[9][10][11] Both Pirate Bay and Piratbyrån have since declined to comment on Lundström's involvement.

As of June 2006, the website was financed through advertisements on their result pages. According to speculations by Svenska Dagbladet, the advertisements generated about US$75,000 per month directly after the raid.[12] The Pirate Shop, an online merchandise shop is not owned by The Pirate Bay but Piratbyrån. The Pirate Bay promotes the shop so that Piratbyrån can make money for its work. They no longer accept any donations.Template:Fact

Investigations by some journalists suggest that the site is making money on a level that far exceeds its operating costs. This leads some to opine that the Pirate Bay is more engaged in making profit than supporting people's rights.[13][14][15] Operators of the site have insisted that these allegations are not true, stating, "It's not free to operate a Web site on this scale," and, "If we were making lots of money I wouldn't be working late at the office tonight, I'd be sitting on a beach somewhere, working on my tan."[16] In response to claims of annual revenue exceeding $3 million made by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), Peter Sunde argues that the site's high bandwidth, power, and hardware costs eliminate the potential for profit. The Pirate Bay, he says, may ultimately be operating at a loss.[17]

May 2006 police raidEdit

Main article: May 2006 police raid on The Pirate Bay and Piratbyrån

Other notable eventsEdit

May 2007 attacks Edit

In May of 2007, The Pirate Bay was hacked by a "known" group of people.[18] They managed to successfully steal a copy of the user database, which included over one and a half million users. The Pirate Bay reassured its users that the data was of no value and that passwords and e-mails were encrypted and hashed. Certain blogs stated that a group known as the AUH (Arga Unga Hackare, Swedish for "Angry Young Hackers") were suspected in the attack; however the AUH stated through an article on Computer Sweden that they were not involved and would take revenge on those responsible for the attack.[19]

Ladonia, Sealand and the ACFIEdit

On 26 June 2006, TPB supported the 'Armed Coalition Forces of the Internets' [sic] against the Swedish micronation of Ladonia. In January 2007, when the micronation of Sealand was put up for 'sale', the ACFI and TPB tried to buy it. However, they could not buy the man-made platform because the Sealand government did not want to sell to TPB. A plan B was made, to buy an island instead, but this too was never implemented, despite the site having raised $20,000 in donations.

Swedish child pornography filterEdit

In July 2007 it was announced that the Swedish police intended to put The Pirate Bay on their filter list of child pornography sites, thus blocking it from general access. This decision was later revoked with the police claiming that the files containing child pornography had been removed. As with the 2006 police raid this came with criticism and accusations that the intended Pirate Bay censorship was political in nature.

Whether child pornography was to be found on The Pirate Bay or not, it was their official policy not to remove any content that has been labeled correctly, even if it is child porn. As they said in their contact page (added somewhere near 19.2.2007[20]):

We do not remove any content, what-so-ever, if it is not wrongly labeled. Seriously, NO content will be removed. Whatever it is. Do not even write to us about it.

Peter Sunde claimed in his blog that their internal policy was to inform police if they found suspicious content.Template:Fact The Pirate Bay's "about" page encourages users to report violations directly to the authorities, rather than to them.[21] He also stated that BitTorrent is not popular for child porn because through the protocol it is very easy for police to track (and catch) those who are distributing files which are illegal under Swedish criminal law.[22] The difference between distribution of child pornography and common copyright infringement in Sweden is that non-commercial copyright infringement is a misdemeanor and police have fewer rights (such as wiretapping) to track suspects compared to a case of more serious crimes (distributing child pornography) where there are no legal limitations to do so.Template:Fact

MediaDefender leak emailsEdit

In September 2007, MediaDefender, a large anti-piracy company, suffered a 700MB content leak from their servers, some of the data contained a large number of sensitive emails. The emails covered content in relation to the hiring of hackers in order to perform DoS attacks on The Pirate Bay's servers and trackers.[23] In response and due to the illegalities of these activities, The Pirate Bay filed charges with the Swedish authorities against the following companies:[24][25] Twentieth Century Fox Sweden AB, EMI Sweden AB, Universal Music Group Sweden AB, Universal Pictures Nordic AB, Paramount Home Entertainment (Sweden) AB, Atari Nordic AB, Activision Nordic, Ubisoft Sweden AB, Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Sweden) AB and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Nordic AB.

MediaDefender's stocks fell sharply after the infringing of their servers and numerous media companies withdrew from the service after they found out what the current circumstances were.[26]

Acquisition and loss of domain nameEdit

On 12 October 2007, reported that the Internet domain, which had previously belonged to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, an anti-piracy organization, had been acquired by The Pirate Bay. When asked about how they got hold of the domain, Sunde told TorrentFreak, "It's not a hack, someone just gave us the domain name. We have no idea how they got it, but it's ours and we're keeping it." The site was renamed "The International Federation of Pirates Interests."[27] However, the IFPI filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) shortly thereafter, who subsequently ordered The Pirate Bay to return the domain name to the IFPI.[28]

Legal attempts to cut off access to The Pirate Bay from DenmarkEdit

In February 2008, a Danish court ordered the Danish Internet service provider Tele2 to cut off its customers' access to Pirate Bay. The case has been appealed.[29]

Prince and Village People sue for damagesEdit

On 15 February 2008, Swedish news site published news that the British legal firm Web Sheriff is filing suit for damages against The Pirate Bay on behalf of its clients Prince and Village People, with other acts like Van Morrison and Chet Baker as possible co-suitors. The lawsuit will be pursued both in American and in Swedish courts. According to Swedish lawyer Lars Sandberg representing Web Sheriff, it has not yet been determined whether to sue the four individuals previously charged or "those companies that are associated with the site".[30] In early February four individuals connected to The Pirate Bay were charged with complicity to violation of copyright law, and the Swedish prosecutor has demanded that 1.2 million Swedish Kronor be paid to the state.[31]

Art performance for ManifestaEdit

According to themselves, The Pirate Bay is a long-running project of performance art.[32] On February 22 2008, the logo of The Pirate Bay was changed from a pirate ship into a pirate bus to announce the partaking in an art project which Piratbyrån has been commissioned to do for the international art biennale Manifesta. This art project is said to include a bus trip, a party, an installation and a statement by Piratbyrån.[33]

Jim Keyzer bribing controversy Edit

Soon after the investigation in the case about The Pirate Bay finished, the police investigator responsible for the case, Jim Keyzer, went off-duty from his old job and is as of now (2008-04-25) employed at Warner Brothers, according to his own account on facebook[34].[35][36] The facebook profile has since been deleted.

The pirate party went out with a press release where they called it a "bribing scandal",[37] and Piratbyrån wrote about it:


Criticism has also been voiced[38] since it also was Jim Keyzers' task to investigate leaked information (see also above) which revealed that ten large media corporations hired MediaDefender to sabotage The Pirate Bays servers. The case was put down by Jim.

These matters have not yet been resolved in court.

Other projectsEdit

The team behind the Pirate Bay have embarked on a number of other websites, including BayImg, an uncensored image host (similar to Photobucket) [39] and a video-sharing website to be called The Video Bay, possibly similar to the video-sharing service YouTube.[40] Another one of their projects is SlopsBox, a disposable e-mail address service. The Slopsbox domain has been down since April 30, 2008 for unknown reasons.[41] On 16 April 2008 they opened Baywords, an uncensored blogging service. They also promote the general license known as kopimi that not only grants everyone the right to copy but that also explicitly encourages everyone to do so. They have also recently relaunched which has the same effect as The Pirate Bay but uses different torrent trackers.


Boink was The Pirate Bay's solution to the raid on Oink's Pink Palace. Sunde announced on 26 October 2007 that the site would be ready to go within a few days time.[42] On 24 November 2007, Sunde stated on his blog that he has decided to cancel BOiNK seeing as many new sites have popped-up since the downfall of OiNK.[43]

SuprBayEdit is a community forum led by (taken down and started; later SuprNova re-made) and The Pirate Bay. The news was given unofficially on on 2 August 2007,[44] as soon as the news was out, members started to join. On 6 August 2007 the news jumped to Digg[45][46] making the front page, which helped to make the forum known to those outside of the pirate community.



See alsoEdit

Letters and memosEdit

  • Letter from John G. Malcolm, Executive Vice President of the MPA, to the former State Secretary, Dan Eliasson: [1]
  • Response from Dan Eliasson: [2]
  • The Swedish Governments "orders" to the authorities (in Swedish): [3]
  • Håkan Roswalls (prosecutor) memo (in Swedish): [4] (pdf)

External linksEdit



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