The Pirate Bay is a Swedish website that indexes and tracks BitTorrent (.torrent) files. It bills itself as "the world's largest BitTorrent tracker" and is ranked as the 106th most popular website by Alexa Internet. The website is primarily funded with advertisements shown next to torrent listings. Initially established in November 2003 by the Swedish anti-copyright organization Piratbyrån (The Piracy Bureau), it had been operating as a separate organization since October 2004. The website is currently run by Gottfrid Svartholm (anakata) and Fredrik Neij (TiAMO).
On 31 May 2006, the website's servers, located in Stockholm, were raided by Swedish police, causing it to go offline for three days. According to the Los Angeles Times, The Pirate Bay is "one of the world's largest facilitators of illegal downloading", and "the most visible member of a burgeoning international anti-copyright—or pro-piracy—movement". On 15 November 2008, The Pirate Bay announced that it had reached over 25 million unique peers. The Pirate Bay has about 3,600,000 registered users, although registration is not necessary to download non-pornographic torrents.
The Pirate Bay has been involved in a number of lawsuits, both as the plaintiff and as the defendant. On 17 April 2009, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm and Carl Lundström were found guilty of assistance to copyright infringement and sentenced to one year in prison and payment of a fine of 30 million SEK (app. 3,620,000 USD; 2,385,000 GBP; or 2,684,000 EUR), after a trial of nine days. The defendants have appealed against the verdict and the judge was accused of bias. Despite the trial the website has been unaffected.
On 30 June 2009, Swedish advertising company Global Gaming Factory X AB announced its intention to buy the site for MSEK 60 (MSEK 30 in cash, MSEK 30 in GGF stock). The transaction is planned to take place in August 2009. The Pirate Bay founders stated that the profits from the sale would be placed in an offshore account where it would be used to fund projects pertaining to 'freedom of speech, freedom of information and the openness of the internet'.