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Summary:

A 38-year-old Englishman becomes the first to be jailed for linking to illegally-hosted movies and TV shows. The method of his prosecution troubles piracy campaigners but delights entertainment owners.

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An Englishman who allegedly made £250,000 ($392,000) operating a website linking to legally- and illegally-hosted TV shows and movies has been sentenced to serve four years in prison.

Anton Vickerman was convicted earlier this summer not under copyright law but of “conspiracy to defraud”.

He had profited from selling ads on his SurfTheChannel site, which he reportedly once attempted to sell for £400,000.

Guardian: “He is the first British man to be jailed in the UK for a website that linked to illegal copies of films and TV shows.”

“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,” Kieron Sharp, director-general of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), which jointly brought the case with the Motion Picture Association of America, says (via Guardian).

It appears the case fell not so much on the existential legal implication of hyperlinking but on whether the accused profited from that activity.

Yet the prosecution under a fraud charge rather than a copyright offence proves controversial to some…

“The way this issue was investigated, prosecuted and the resulting sentence are, deeply concerning, inappropriate and disproportionate given the activities that Anton Vickerman was engaged in,” writes Pirate Party UK leader Laurence Kaye, who does not hold office. “A four-year prison sentence is twice the maximum that could have been handed down if Vickers had been charged with online copyright infringement.”

Two years ago, an English court acquitted another man, Alan Ellis, accused of the same crime. He was charged with making $300,000 in donations from OiNK, a site dedicated to sharing music links.

A third man, Richard O’Dwyer, was not charged by UK police but faces extradition to the U.S., accused of running the separate site TVshack.net, which allegedly linked to sites illegally hosting movies and TV shows. O’Dwyer allegedly made £147,000 in ad sales from the site.

TorrentFreak: “The sentencing today definitely spells trouble for UK-based website owners who operate similar streaming sites.”

  1. http://www.justin.v needs to be arrested for the same thing then

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  2. So the defendant spent eight weeks in court, for which the lawyers want to be paid a few £million between them I dare say, because he made considerably less money than this, doing something that didn’t even warrant a charge of copyright infringement, a charge which would have left him liable for a much shorter prison sentence?

    He is now going to prison for a couple of years, at the UK tax-payer’s expense?

    He was charged with “conspiracy” (to make a profit?), but nobody else with whom he was alleged to have “conspired” was charged with conspiracy with him, suggesting that the jury weren’t properly directed on the meaning of the word “conspiracy” – at least two people are needed for there to be a conspiracy? Leading to a possible appeal against verdict?

    How is any of this absurdity to anybody’s advantage, apart from the lawyers?

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  3. It’s so illogical! Whom was he defrauding, by accepting advertising revenue, from advertisers whose advertisements he presumably placed, exactly as ordered and paid for? Fraud would have involved taking money, intending not to supply the service those who handed over the money had paid for.

    Who confused the jury so badly, about the meanings of words like “conspiracy” and “defraud”?

    What exactly did this convict do that was illegal? Accept advertising revenue from people who were infringing copyright? How is that unlawful? Why should it be?

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  4. 4 years for linking?!?

    Due to perceived economic loss?

    What about the chieftains of financial firms that committed fraud , managed acts that created actual economic loss… Where are the sentences of the CEOs that created the meltdown ? ( libor, MF global, goldman, jpmorgan,bofa, ,etc) —not one conviction!

    Oligarchs rule your world – people. revolt for your freedoms before they are taken away

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  5. Oh yeah and what about Murdoch and his henchmen, with the sordid culture of newscorp ?

    Where is the conviction of Rupert on his ” conspiracy to defraud”

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  6. The Graphic Mac Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Were it not for the fact that this is truly pathetic, it would surely make me laugh uncontrollably.

    They should toss the movie company executives in jail for making such horrible movies the last two decades.

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  7. Quite clear now. The individuals rights have been auctioned off to the highest corporate bidder. The common man/woman is in deep trouble from here on to the “next unnecessary bloodbath”.

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