UK Internet Pirate Goes to Jail for Long Time

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UK Internet Pirate Goes to Jail for Long Time

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A man accused of internet piracy has lost his savings, his marriage and now his freedom.

A UK man, Anton Vickerman, has been sentenced for a four year jail term on internet piracy charges. Vickerman operated surfthechannel.com, a site that once earned about 35,000 per month in advertising revenue by linking to sites which provided legal and illegal downloads of copyrighted material, films and TV shows. Vickerman never hosted the content himself; he just pointed the way for others looking for downloads. A private lobbying group, Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), got wind of this and put a private investigator on Vickerman's trail. The information that investigator gathered enabled Vickerman's prosecution for conspiracy to defraud, for which he was convicted in June and sentenced yesterday. Vickerman will spend the next four years in prison, having already lost his savings and his marriage fighting the case.

This has been criticized as being unduly harsh and arbitrary. Graham Linehan, writer of The IT Crowd and Father Ted, called it punishing people "for being able to navigate the modern world." He went on to decry "the sheer shocking arbitrary nature of it all ... to be told that you could face up to 10 years for sharing links? When I heard that Nora Ephron died, I shared on Twitter a link to the full version of When Harry Met Sally on YouTube. Am I a criminal now? Why? Why not?" According to the prosecution, the difference between Vickerman and Linehan is that Vickerman profited from his actions by obtaining ad revenue from his site. Had Vickerman stuck to links alone, the prosecution might not have taken place.

Vickerman has his own take on the situation. His site has been replaced by a statement in which he claims that the whole thing was orchestrated by a jealous former business partner who cooperated with FACT in order to shut Vickerman's site down. Vickerman also claims that the reason he fell out with this partner in the first place was because the partner wanted to commit copyright infringement and Vickerman did not. According to Vickerman "STC only ever contained links to third party video websites such as YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Veoh, 4OD and many others." Vickerman claims that FACT "bullied" him, hoping to force Vickerman to shut down his site.

Kieron Sharp, director general of FACT, made a statement following Vickerman's sentencing. "This case conclusively shows that running a website that deliberately sets out to direct users to illegal copies of films and TV shows will result in a criminal conviction and a long jail sentence."

Source: Guardian, surfthechannel

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And yet, Google do the same thing, and no doubt profit far more from advertising whilst doing so.

Piracy is one thing, but trying to make money out of piracy is just plain stupid. He must of known that what he was doing would draw attention - it's not like there hasn't been a case like this before!

Damn right, send em to jail.

When will you people learn that you shouldn't make money from IP theft? Probably never.

So... he directed people on where to go to watch tv including legal and illegal places...

This is rediculous that a mans life is ruined over sharing information that is already freely available. Also, how is generating ad revenue for this wrong? Wouldn't that make youtube punishable? and google? If I made the same website and just listed the illegal places under a seperate heading of BTW avoid these specific sites as they are not legal sources, would there still be a problem?

Nothing about this case seems on the level. I can agree that piracy is bad, but this is not the way to stop it.

35,000 per month? Wow. That's some nice pocket change.

Ok wait wait wait.
Who advertises on a site devoted to people who aren't willing to pay money for things? That just seems odd.

Another example of how the battle is being fought on the wrong front with the wrong strategy.

Loop Stricken:
And yet, Google do the same thing, and no doubt profit far more from advertising whilst doing so.

Isn't Google a American company though? FACT is based in Britain, and it's most likely only capable of arresting sites based in the UK, like the one that got this British guy arrested, FACT trying to arrest the head of Google would be like the FBI launching a full-scale assault on a fat man in New Zealand.

Now they need to direct their attention towards all those people who post links with those stupid survey sites on youtube.

Gotta agree with the outrage here. I'll bet *my* savings that youtube had banner ads on those video pages & made plenty of money doing so. The real difference is that they have a massive legal team (probably trained in ninjitsu)

Good old British justice system.

Guy provides links to movies and such, gets four years in jail, while not actually hosting any illegal content themselves.

Yet adults who have sex with under 13's get told to go on a register, but otherwise get little more than a slap on the wrist.

As for the above comment, there are seriously countless similar stories of other serious crimes getting little to no punishment, mainly (although they won't admit it) due to the overcrowded prisons. Normally people who commit assault, theft or other such crimes that actually directly affect people.

It just shows that money is more important than people when it comes to the eyes of the law.

4 years for some sodding internet links and adverts. We can't deport a fucking Al-Qaeda soldier because "human rights" yet we can sling someone into our already over-crowded prisons because of things you can easily find on youtube?

Fuck this country, as if I needed more reasons to GTFO.

Surfthechannel? The thing that kept telling me to buy stuff? The guy that made it is going to jail? Yea, I agree with Loop Stricken, why aren't the heads of Google being sent to jail for the same thing? Because guess what, that's how I found Surfthechannel.

Don't come over the pond. It is worse here. Choices narrowing it seems... :\

He won't serve 4 years - not for a crime like this.
He'll probably do a year and then be let off for good behaviour.

So he got sent to jail for selling advertisment space essentailly?

Well fuck the Escapist, Facebook, Google and EVERY OTHER INTERNET SITE IN THE WORLD is liable to jail time now huh?

sethisjimmy:
Ok wait wait wait.
Who advertises on a site devoted to people who aren't willing to pay money for things? That just seems odd.

People that don't want their money anymore?

Legion:

Yet adults who have sex with under 13's get told to go on a register, but otherwise get little more than a slap on the wrist.

That's Europe for you. Rape an innocent impressionable child, traumatizing them for the rest of their life? A-Ok! 2 years on a registry and you're good to go!

Why can't we have a country where we take all the good things (what little there may be) from the American justice system and all the good things from some of the European justice systems and have a super-country?

OT: If this was just a random schmuck being jailed for downloading "The Hunger Games" it would be a different story, but this guy was kind of directly profiting off piracy... not the best idea.

Going to jail for making money from copyright infringement. *sarcasm = on* Oh yeah, you're such a victim.

Whatever happened to civil disobedience? Internet piracy is illegal, no matter how many other people do it. If you get caught, you're in for it, end of story. Best thing to do is to not shift the blame and make it abundantly clear why you knowingly broke the law. It won't save you from jail, but the internet will admire you as a hero for two or three weeks.

Doesn't Google do the same thing. You do a search for videos then Google provides links to websites with pirated videos to view, and Google makes money off of advertising.

Zer0Saber:
Doesn't Google do the same thing. You do a search for videos then Google provides links to websites with pirated videos to view, and Google makes money off of advertising.

I think the difference is google isn't designed to do that like this website was which is why it can't be shut down but they are still getting lots of heat over pirate websites appearing in searches.

Once again we see a government more concerned with protecting big companies then normal people.

Judge: I could be reasonable but my political party is aligned with the guy whose toes you stepped on so ROT IN JAIL!

Sometimes its easy to see why people hate their governments.

Sober Thal:
Damn right, send em to jail.

When will you people learn that you shouldn't make money from IP theft? Probably never.

I think it's time for the MPAA to start going after google now.

Honeslty, ignoring the stories being told from Vickerman about the shadiness of FACT spying on him, and the court case seeming like it was set up unfairly, and how the police weren't involved for the majority of the investigation...

This is just BS. You can find more links to illegal downloads using a common search engine than you could on STC...
Four years in jail? Really? If even half of what Vickerman is saying on his site is true then it just makes it even worse.

I actually support the courts here, he was making money from a site promoting piracy, if he hadn't have been then he should have been let off with a caution.

Absolutely disgusting. I have just read the entire story on FACT ltd on surfthechannel.com. I honestly cannot believe this stuff goes on.

The crime is real, but the time is overkill.

Severe overkill.

Sober Thal:
Damn right, send em to jail.

When will you people learn that you shouldn't make money from IP theft? Probably never.

Reread the second paragraph. He got ten years for posting links to youtube videos, not to torrent sites. They could send the administrators of Tvtropes and this site to prison for the same thing.

Piracy is wrong, but hamhanded prosecution of IP laws is also wrong, and that's what's happening here.

Do you really think it's fair to send a person to jail for 10 years for posting links to youtube videos? I think there's a bigger need to lock you up than him; he's not advocating destruction of people's lives over trivial things, you are.

He who lives by the technicality, gets screwed by the technicality

Kordie:
So... he directed people on where to go to watch tv including legal and illegal places...

This is rediculous that a mans life is ruined over sharing information that is already freely available. Also, how is generating ad revenue for this wrong? Wouldn't that make youtube punishable? and google? If I made the same website and just listed the illegal places under a seperate heading of BTW avoid these specific sites as they are not legal sources, would there still be a problem?

Nothing about this case seems on the level. I can agree that piracy is bad, but this is not the way to stop it.

So if he told bank robbers where you could buy illegal firearms that would be ok? He is crook plain and simple and he has rightly gone to jail.

Leave it to intellectual copyright thugs to come up with a self important acronym like "FACT" for themselves.

albino boo:

Kordie:
So... he directed people on where to go to watch tv including legal and illegal places...

This is rediculous that a mans life is ruined over sharing information that is already freely available. Also, how is generating ad revenue for this wrong? Wouldn't that make youtube punishable? and google? If I made the same website and just listed the illegal places under a seperate heading of BTW avoid these specific sites as they are not legal sources, would there still be a problem?

Nothing about this case seems on the level. I can agree that piracy is bad, but this is not the way to stop it.

So if he told bank robbers where you could buy illegal firearms that would be ok? He is crook plain and simple and he has rightly gone to jail.

Customers don't matter, you can't tell if your selling a gun to a mass murderer or a hunter. Second, if you asked me where to buy a gun and I said here is a list of 17 places that sell the gun you want including bills black market ally warehouse, then it is up to you the consumer to choose what store to go to. He pointed people to both legitimate and illegitimate sources, which is nothing a google search won't do already.

Can't help the feeling we're falling into a corporate run dystopian era

Loop Stricken:
And yet, Google do the same thing, and no doubt profit far more from advertising whilst doing so.

Yes, but Google is much too powerful. Lobbying groups and businesses like this pick on the little guys that can't afford the top lawyers and favors in court.

albino boo:

So if he told bank robbers where you could buy illegal firearms that would be ok? He is crook plain and simple and he has rightly gone to jail.

Why are you using something far worse that he didn't do as justification for this? He maybe deserves a small fine. He doesn't deserve jail. Hell, most people here have posted links to youtube videos that would probably be considered IP infringement. Do we deserve jailtime?

People be bloodthirsty and vindictive in this thread. Makes me worried about the future. I get the feeling that if people like you get their way, there will come a day where not committing severely punishable offenses will actually be hard.

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