Media companies will struggle to grab any money owed by The Pirate Bay, as Sweden's official debt collector found that three of the four founders have "no attachable assets" in that country.
In April, a group of 13 media companies, including Warner Music Group and EMI, asked the Swedish government agency, commonly known there as the "bailiff," to collect more than 30 million Swedish Kronor, or about $4 million on their behalf.
This was the amount the media firms were awarded by a Swedish judge after finding four men associated with The Pirate Bay--Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, Fredrik Neij, Gottfried Svartholm Warg, and Carl Lundstrom--guilty of copyright violations. The men were also sentenced to a year in prison.
But on Monday, the Swedish newspaper Di.se, reported that the bailiff can't find anything to collect for Neij, Warg, and Lundstrom. In addition and perhaps most importantly, the bailiff rejected claims made by the media companies that Reservella, the firm listed as the official owner of The Pirate Bay, is a shell company controlled by The Pirate Bay founders.
The decision by the bailiff might have more significance if the acquisition attempt by Global Gaming Factory X, the software maker and operator of Internet cafes, didn't appear doomed.
In June, Global Gaming announced it had agreed to pay about $8 million, half in cash and half in Global Gaming stock, for The Pirate Bay. Global Gaming CEO has said for weeks the deal would be completed by this Thursday. The transaction appears seriously threatened now after Swedish exchange officials halted trading in the company's stock on Friday over concerns about whether Global Gaming has adequate financing to complete the purchase. There is also a criminal investigation into possible insider trading involving the company's stock.
Questions have also been raised about the accuracy of some of the claims made by Global Gaming's CEO Hans Pandeya. One example is that he said he received a $10 million bid from Napster co-founder John Fanning, uncle of Shawn Fanning. The elder Fanning denied Pandeya's claim.
One part of the claims made by the entertainment industry is that the founders were the ones who negotiated with Pandeya and other Global Gaming leaders. Sources close to Global Gaming told CNET this weekend that Pandeya finalized the agreement with the founders.
According to Di.se, Pandeya has told the bailiff that he doesn't know who is behind Reservella. The major music labels have pressured Pandeya to turn over any money he pays for the site to them. The Pirate Bay's founders have denied owning The Pirate Bay since 2006.
The bailiff said it could not connect The Pirate Bay founders to Reservella and just because they oversaw negotiations, doesn't prove that Reservella is a dummy corporation, according to the report in Di.se.
Should Pandeya come up with the money for The Pirate Bay, it's unclear whether the music and film industries could require him to turn it over to them.