Four years in jail for Surfthechannel owner

Anton Vickerman, the owner of Surfthechannel.com will be spending the next four years at Her Majesty’s pleasure, following successful conviction in June for conspiracy to defraud and facilitating copyright infringement.

Surfthechannel was designed to index video files, both legal and illegal, and encourage its users to contribute new working links. The videos were not hosted by Vickerman, but linked to sites such as Megavideo. At the height of its popularity, the site attracted 400,000 visitors a day which in turn created more than £35,000 a month in advertising revenue.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) and the MPAA hired a private investigator in July 2008, who was able to get photos of Vickerman’s computer equipment after pretending to want to buy his house.  Vickerman and his wife, Kelly, were arrested a month later.

Surfthechannel only went offline in May, after the start of the trial.

Kieron Sharp, director general of Fact is happy with the sentence handed down to Vickerman.

"Mr Vickerman knew what he was doing from the outset, having been involved in the pirate community for some time. This was not a passive search engine. Surfthechannel was created specifically to make money from criminal activity and it became the biggest site of its kind on the internet within two years.”

The law has been described as vague, as Vickerman has been convicted of conspiracy to defraud, rather than being prosecuted for copyright infringement. The same charges were unsuccessful against Oink and tv-links.co.uk that also provided links to pirated material.

Source: BBC

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Outlook.com hits 10 million users, SkyDrive gets updated

Next Story

Yammer co-founder: Microsoft is more like a startup

24 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Having into account all the financial damage and hundreds of lost jobs thanks to this person, 4 years in prison is quite not enough.

fastcat said,
Having into account all the financial damage and hundreds of lost jobs thanks to this person, 4 years in prison is quite not enough.

Talk out of your ass much?

Hahaiah said,
Talk out of your ass much?

Its the same people that wait at the intersection to cross the street that feel the jaywalkers should be hit by speeding traffic.

Being evil against evil makes some people feel better. *shurg*

fastcat said,
Having into account all the financial damage and hundreds of lost jobs thanks to this person, 4 years in prison is quite not enough.

I guess you have factual numbers to back this up ?

fastcat said,
Having into account all the financial damage and hundreds of lost jobs thanks to this person, 4 years in prison is quite not enough.

You mean like when they don't publish a tv show out side of america for upto 3 years? How can it cause financial damage from something that isn't being sold ? hundreds of jobs wouldn't have been lost after the fact, its impossible to say someone lost a job after they've done something. tvshows, movies etc are created prior to them being aired.
If they've lost people watching it on their tv channel, then its really their own fault for being greedy and limiting the people who can watch it. The internet has made the world a smaller place, its only going to get smaller as bandwdith increases. There should be no regional issues with any TV shows or movies anymore. While I fully understand that some countries can't afford the asking price and needs to be sold cheaper to make a sale, when they don't even bother to try and sell it.. what option do people have?

Just because someone can get something with out paying
doesn't mean they will have a guaranteed sale if no piracy.
You would be surprised how many people are paying their cable TV providers
AND
Downloading the shows they want that they could easily watch
legally through their own cable connection.

You can't create a website based upon pirated material - especially when done in such an overt way - and expect to get away with it. And for once the punishment is actually proportionate to the crime, which is very unusual in copyright infringement cases (even though they technically convicted him of fraud).

theyarecomingforyou said,
You can't create a website based upon pirated material - especially when done in such an overt way - and expect to get away with it. And for once the punishment is actually proportionate to the crime, which is very unusual in copyright infringement cases (even though they technically convicted him of fraud).
Sure you can, and there are lots of sites out there that prove this.

Youtube comes to mind

That's the problem though. He was technically convicted of fraud even though all the revenue came from ad impressions (still legal), yet it will be trumpeted as a win against copyright infringement when he merely provided links (also still legal). This is what Google does, yet through the use of evidence that was unlawfully, deceptively and illegally obtained and should have been thrown out, a district court judge - who had no business saying anything - arbitrarily decides on "probable guilt" which coloured the subsequent case to the detriment of the accused.

What he did was morally wrong but it seems only big companies don't get criminalised for that.

misn'ter said
,oblem though. He was technically convicted of fraud even though all the revenue came from ad impressions (still legal), yet it will be trumpeted as a win against copyright infringement when he merely provided links (also still legal). This is what Google does, yet through the use of evidence that was unlawfully, deceptively and illegally obtained and should have been thrown out, a district court judge - who had no business saying anything - arbitrarily decides on "probable guilt" which coloured the subsequent case to the detriment of the accused.

What he did was morally wrong but it seems only big companies don't get criminalised for that.

Google isnt used for piracy.

Thats like saying Google is a porn site cause you can find porn on it.

theyarecomingforyou said,
You can't create a website based upon pirated material - especially when done in such an overt way - and expect to get away with it. And for once the punishment is actually proportionate to the crime, which is very unusual in copyright infringement cases (even though they technically convicted him of fraud).

i'm guessing this was the guys first offence ?

With no prior Convictions and a fraud charge looming
i had my case "stayed" and was given 30 days community service
which i did 2 days of it and that was that.. I've even gone as far as calling the cops and asking them if they have interest in me and they said no..
"we don't want you" lol

So 4 years ? Ugggh jeez that sounds steep !
Looks like they are trying to make an example out of him i think.

dead.cell said,
One falls, dozens more rise. Blendseries and Sidereal being a few that quickly come to mind...

If people truly believed this they wouldn't get all upset about attempts to fight piracy. In fact, they'd support all efforts and legislation designed to stop piracy, because they'd believe that bringing sites down would exponentially increase the number of sites in the future.

Joshie said,

If people truly believed this they wouldn't get all upset about attempts to fight piracy. In fact, they'd support all efforts and legislation designed to stop piracy, because they'd believe that bringing sites down would exponentially increase the number of sites in the future.

Was just an observation of the way things are going.

dead.cell said,

Was just an observation of the way things are going.


It's not just an observation; it's a canned talking point. What you said has been parroted across shut-down discussions for over a decade. It is, by far, the MOST repeated sentiment in the history of this discussion. It doesn't even change minds: it's closer to a rallying call, as if its purpose is to encourage those "dozens" to come into existence, or to reassure others that it will happen.

But there is no guarantee, and there are ways to marginalize piracy. Cheap software doesn't make people stop pirating, and free software is not "the future". The only option for the commercial industry is to fight piracy.

Edited by Joshie, Aug 14 2012, 7:40pm :

Joshie said,

But there is no guarantee, and there are ways to marginalize piracy. Cheap software doesn't make people stop pirating, and free software is not "the future". The only option for the commercial industry is to fight piracy.

I don't agree with that at all.
While I don't pirate games on my xbox 360 I do know full well how to, and where to go to get the information if I actually wanted to. If I was to pirate an xbox game the publishers and developers would not be missing anything from me. I know this for a fact as I've never brought a retail copy of an xbox game, and the ones I do buy are all pre-owned.
None of the money I spend on xbox 360 games goes towards the developers, nor the publishers of the games. The only person making money is the company I buy them from who is just reselling games they've already had in stock. Its pure profit on their side.

On the PC, I don't pirate games either, however unlike the xbox, I don't buy pre-owned games, but rather heavy discounted from the likes of steam, greenmangaming, amazon etc.

So your arguement about cheap software doesn't stop pirates, well yes it does. If i didn't have heavy discounts and very low priced pre-owned titles I wouldn't buy them.

Now, when it comes to games like Moden warfare who, charge almost the same price for extra Maps for their game as the game itself, and not only that but the game itself is near enough the same as the last 3 versions you have to ask yourself why pay the asking price for it... and when the price doesn't come down... some publishers just dig their own graves.

Sims 3 is a prim example, they've been so busy trying to stick DRM in to protect the game, its DLC and everending expansions that they've forgotten that the game actually has bugs in it that need to be fixed. If you look at the Sims 3 community, near enough everyone will have to download a link to some form of anti-DRM/piracy measure just to get the game working properly. Its stupid stuff like this that drives people into piracy, rather then rewarding people for purchases they brand them a criminal.
A prime example is the anti-piracy screens you have to sit and watch every time you try and watch a DVD/bluray movie. "oh my gods you buyed this movie! you pirate better not copy it!".

I understand that they need to protect their property, but it 100% is not the only option to fight piracy. People respond better to rewards, then abuse.

Joshie said,

It's not just an observation; it's a canned talking point. What you said has been parroted across shut-down discussions for over a decade. It is, by far, the MOST repeated sentiment in the history of this discussion. It doesn't even change minds: it's closer to a rallying call, as if its purpose is to encourage those "dozens" to come into existence, or to reassure others that it will happen.

But there is no guarantee, and there are ways to marginalize piracy. Cheap software doesn't make people stop pirating, and free software is not "the future". The only option for the commercial industry is to fight piracy.

It is an observation, highlighting how futile the war on piracy can be at times. Nowhere did I suggest that they should just give up fighting piracy, nor do I encourage piracy. So knock it off by trying to give me this "speech" for an argument YOU want to have...