SurfTheChannel Brit movie pirate gets 4 YEARS' PORRIDGE
Landmark fraud prosecution
The mastermind behind popular pirate site SurfTheChannel.com has been jailed for four years. A jury found Anton Vickerman guilty in June, but sentencing only took place today at Newcastle Crown Court.
Vickerman, of Gateshead, earned at least £35,000 a month from the site, which actively curated links to infringing material. The site was among the 500 most popular destinations on the net.
Prosecutors are proclaiming the case as a landmark. It's certainly significant, and unusual, for a few reasons. The foremost of which is that it closes down loopholes in criminal copyright infringement law - at least in the UK. And it's the first successful prosecution of a pirate site under business fraud legislation.
After hearing the evidence, the jury had to decided whether the defendant was honest or dishonest: had he acted in good faith? It's a question that invited them to discern the defendant's true intentions, by examining (for example) whether he was actively curating the material presented on his website.
Copyright infringement cases have historically been bogged down in complex issues of who exactly is liable, presenting defendants with an opportunity to escape through loopholes. Other defendants have attempted to argue that it's beyond Blighty's jurisdiction because the servers are located outside the UK.
The Geordie jury wasn't impressed - and Vickerman was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud by copyright.
Vickerman claims he's the victim of a miscarriage of justice. He has released an archive referring to an earlier unsuccessful prosecution, and a bizarre complaint to the Office of Fair Trading that claimed SurfTheChannel was a legitimate operation and the victim of a conspiracy. OFT rejected the complaint.
You may recall Operation Ark Royal, an earlier and unsuccessful attempt to prosecute a pirate site under the same strategy. The case against the Oink website was rejected by a jury, however. What made the difference?
The Newsbinz2 case in 2010 saw internet service providers lose the "mere conduit" loophole for turning a blind eye to blatant piracy, and the judge made clear that this entirely was consistent with EU law. Safe harbour is designed to protect an operator from harassment and huge liabilities - evidently an unfairness that would hinder legitimate e-commerce. While Oink was a private club, Vickerman's SurfTheChannel was a globally popular destination. Vickerman lost the safe harbour defence by actively curating the infringing material.
As Kieron Sharp, director of the Federation Against Copyright Theft which brought the prosecution, explains: "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."
In a statement issued after sentencing today, Lord Puttnam, a British film producer, said: "This case can leave no one in any doubt that internet piracy is controlled by criminals whose profits threaten the ongoing reinvestment in our creative industries."
Rights' holders will still need to mount a private prosecution, which is expensive, but they hope the stiff sentence deters other major pirate operations in the UK. ®
Re: Evil pirates of the high seas!
Honestly I used to pirate all the time, music, film, games. Why? Because I couldn't get any of it legitimately. TV shows I wanted to watch were going for a couple hundered per series by splitting it up as 2 eps per dvd, even though it could easily hold several more. Music was just impossible to get hold of in my area, and games were (and still are) insanely overpriced.
Nowadays, I watch all my TV through legit sources like netflix or crunchyroll. Do they have everything? No, but they have most of what I want to watch, and that's good enough for now (wish they had a wider selection though)
Instead of buying my console games I signed up for lovefilm (i know I know, i use netflix for streaming because at the moment it has a better library of entertainment) instead of spending £40 a month for a game, i'm spending £5 and playing several.
If a legit source presents itself to the masses then I'm sure aa great deal of people will grab the legit source. But that's one of the issues.
You have pirates split into two camps. Mine, the people who would grab it legit if it were going for a price they're willing to pay, or if it were even avaliable. And the pirates who have no intention of buying it in the first place.
Either way with the present costs of films games and music, the industries aren't really losing any customers. They're just blaming piracy because it's easier than admitting that they're overcharging on their products. I mean look how much business improved for them when pirate bay finally got blocked in blighty. Oh wait it didn't.
I just hope more execs realise they'll make more money licensing out their IP to services like netflix or loveFilm, and give up on this insane fight against piracy, because right now one of the options will give them a boost in profits, and the other will cost them millions in legal fees.
'Lord Puttnam, a British film producer, said: "This case can leave no one in any doubt that internet piracy is controlled by criminals whose profits threaten the ongoing reinvestment in our creative industries."'
But then, so is the worldwide film and tv industry.
Re: Evil pirates of the high seas!
i have to agree.
i had to download a couple of episodes of a TV series today as they had failed on my Tivo.
do i feel guilty? fuck no. ive already paid for access to that TV station and its not my fault my hardware buggered up.
as you say, stealing is wrong. but what about cloning? what about if you had no intention of buying in the first place?
i dont download pirated movies and music as i can afford to buy them, so i do. but they cant think that everyone who pirates would have bought the media in the first place.