The people behind the Pirate Bay may want to do some quick research before moving to a new domain name in a new country in order to escape the law. Early on Tuesday morning the Pirate Bay site, which is now the biggest pirate site in the world and has an Alexa rank of 75, switched to Greenland-based domains ThePirateBay.gl and PirateBay.gl in anticipation of the Swedish authorities seizing its .se domain.
Greenland may have seemed like an attractive option, as it’s got a tiny population and is far, far away from pretty much anywhere. However, it belongs to Denmark, where the site is blocked, and though it is autonomous, the Danish government retains control over its police force and justice system. This may have played some part in the decision by Tele-Post (the company responsible for .gl registrations) to swiftly block access to the two domains. Reportedly basing its decision on an earlier Danish Supreme Court ruling that rendered the Pirate Bay site illegal, it stated that it would not allow the domains to be put to illegal use.
For the moment, the site is back at its Swedish domain, but TorrentFreak reported that ‘a Pirate Bay insider’ has told them they have plenty of domain names in reserve. Some may be surprised by the identity of the owner of those domains – including the .gl domains: Pirate Bay founder and convicted felon Fredrik Neij, who is wanted by the Swedish authorities in order to serve a prison sentence and pay a fine of millions of dollars.
The Swedish Pirate Bay founders were found guilty of aiding copyright infringement in a Swedish court in 2009, sentenced to prison and ordered to pay a fine of $7.3m. While the financial backer Carl Lundström spent his four-month sentence under house arrest wearing an electronic tag, and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg is currently serving his sentence in a Swedish prison after being extradited from Cambodia (where he’s lived ever since the initial conviction), the other two founders are still going on with their daily lives.
Peter Sunde reportedly lives in Berlin and has been active in several projects, including iPredator (a Sweden-based anonymous VPN), Kvittar (a digital receipts platform), and Flattr (a micropayment platform). He also travels around the world on speaking engagements (his speaker agent asked for a £5,000 fee for him to participate on a panel I was supposed to attend back in 2010).
In the documentary AFK: The Pirate Bay Away from Keyboard, Neij displayed his displeasure with the lack of attention he was getting on the main news networks after the Swedish appellate court upheld the initial verdict. “We’re not even on BBC or CNN yet! That irritates me! Come on, goddamit!” he exclaimed as he grabbed the remote to check the other channels. “I guess we have to live with the fact that we’re not important anymore.”
If Neij is indeed still involved with TPB, then this year’s early “April Fools joke” announcement that the Pirate Bay had moved its servers to North Korea after being booted out of both Sweden and Norway may have been his way of recapturing that attention he craved. (The servers are believed to have been moved to Europe instead.)
Neij moved to Laos a few years ago. According to Swedish media his passport was revoked last year, preventing him from leaving the country. Yet, as Warg proved by continuing his online work – and apparently offering to host the expatriate website Khmer44 on “his own personal server back in Sweden” – long after his conviction, country borders have little effect when running a site.
Towards the end of the AFK documentary, sitting in Laos, Neij reflected on losing his appeal: “The statute of limitations is five years. They can’t issue an international warrant of arrest.
“I can sit here and jerk off for five years. And I will.”
Could that be how they describe running a pirate site these days?