Four Year Jail Term For Surfthechannel.com Owner
14 August 2012
A 38-year-old man has become the first person to be jailed in the UK over piracy, and has been sentenced to four years in prison at Newcastle crown court.
Anton Vickerman made £35,000 a month through the website, surfthechannel.com, that linked to pirated copies of films and TV shows. The website had around 400,000 users a day.
Vickerman was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to defraud in June following an eight-week trial.
Vickerman, from Gateshead, set up the website in 2007 as an index of online videos – both legal and illegal – hosted elsewhere on the internet. He made money through adverts placed on the site.
He was not charged on copyright offences, but was convicted on two counts of conspiracy to facilitate copyright infringement.
Prosecutors said the conviction was a landmark case in the fight against piracy websites.
It is unclear whether the verdict will have any effect on appeals being made by the family of Richard O’Dwyer, a 22-year-old Sheffield student, whose TVshack.net site was closed down in November 2010 after it linked to places where people could watch US TV and movies online. O’Dwyer faces extradition to the US, where he could face 10 years in jail. Prosecutors in the UK have not charged O’Dwyer, whose site had about 300,000 users per month and collected £147,000 in advertising revenue over three years.