A Swedish gaming group said Tuesday it would buy The Pirate Bay, one of the world's most popular filesharing sites, for 5.6 million euros (7.8 million dollars).
The company, Global Gaming Factory (GGF), plans to begin paying copyright fees once the deal is completed.
"The listed software company, Global Gaming Factory (GGF), acquires The Pirate Bay website, one of the 100 most visited websites in the world... The purchase (sum) amounts to 60 million kronor, consisting of at least 30 million in cash," it said in a statement.
The remainder will be paid in the form of newly issued shares in GGF.
A Swedish court in April found the four men behind The Pirate Bay guilty of promoting copyright infringement by running the site, sentencing them to a year in prison.
They were also ordered to pay damages of 30 million kronor (2.72 million euros, 3.56 million dollars) to the movie and recording industry -- the sum agreed upon in cash in Tuesday's sale.
The four have appealed the verdict, though no date has been set for the appeals trial.
GGF said in the statement that it wanted content providers and copyright owners to get paid for content downloaded from The Pirate Bay, which is currently free of charge and does not pay copyright fees.
New technology would require users to pay to download films, games and music, but "they will be able to make money" by sharing their files with other users, GGF chief executive Hans Pandeya said.
"And if you earn money by sharing your files, then maybe it's not that hard to pay for top quality," he told Swedish news agency TT.
One of The Pirate Bay founders, Peter Sunde, said it was time for the site to get fresh impetus from new owners.
"We feel that we can't take The Pirate Bay any further. We're in a bit of a frozen situation where there's not much happening and there are neither people nor money to develop things," Sunde told TT.
The sale "means things will go into a new gear for The Pirate Bay," he added.
Sunde said the 30 million kronor paid in cash for The Pirate bay was not linked to the damages the court ordered the four to pay, and said the money would not reach their pockets.
Rather, he said, the money would be used to create a fund to develop other Internet projects.
The guilty verdict handed down against the three founders of The Pirate Bay and their main financier made headlines around the world, at a time when many countries are trying to hammer out legislation on Internet filesharing.
Founded in 2003, The Pirate Bay makes it possible to skirt copyright fees and share music, film and computer game files using bit torrent technology, or peer-to-peer links offered on the site.
None of the material can be found on The Pirate Bay server itself.
The Pirate Bay claims to have some 22 million users worldwide.
(c) 2009 AFP