Owner Of File-Sharing Website Sentenced To Four Years In Jail
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Entertainment Industry, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services, Legal P2P News & Issues, Movies, MP3, Digital Audio & Games
Anton Vickerman used to run Surfthechannel.com and was found guilty of “conspiracy to defraud” rather than copyright infringement. His website did not host the infringed content itself, but offered links to where illegal digital data may be found.
The case against Anton’s website started in 2008 when the attention of the MPAA and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) was caught by his portal. Both groups hired a private investigator who, in order to gain access to Vickerman’s home, posed as a potential home buyer.
Just a month after, police authorities arrested both Vickerman and his wife Kelly during a raid. Fortunately (if we can say that) for his wife, she was not found guilty.
According to the BBC, the website stayed online until May 2012 as Vickerman said that Surfthechannel.com belonged to someone else. On the other side, FACT claims that the website gathered around 400.000 unique visitors per day in 2009, thus bringing revenues of £35,000/month from advertising.
Head of the UK Pirate Party Loz Kaye said that the case was “deeply concerning, inappropriate and disproportionate”.
“The interest groups involved couldn’t present a case of copyright infringement and decided to press for the use of the common law offence of ‘conspiracy to defraud’ instead,” Kaye said.
“This offence is incredibly controversial in English law as it criminalises conduct by two or more parties that would not be criminal when performed by an individual.”
“A four year prison sentence is twice the maximum that could have been handed down if Vickers had been charged with online copyright infringement,” he added.
Furthermore, Kayle’s concerns are that this case was actually “driven by private interests”.
“It has been reported that the very groups representing the victim helped with the investigation, were present at the arrest, present at police interviews and given access to the evidence,” he said.
But according to FACT, the four-year sentence is just a result of how serious copyright infringement really is.
“Vickerman knew what he was doing from the outset, having been involved in the pirate community for some time,” FACT’s director general Kieron Sharp said.
“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 sentencing indicates the severity of the offences committed and the sophistication of his criminal enterprise and should send a very strong message to those running similar sites that they can be found, arrested and end up in prison.”