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.