Tuesday, 14 August 2012 17:29

SurfTheChannel shut down

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Anton Vickerman, the owner of Tvstreaming links site SurfTheChannel was sentenced to four years in jail at Newcastle Crown Court. He was found guilty of consipracy to defraud for facilitating copyright infrigement. The operation was prosecuted by the MPAA (Motion Pictures Association of America) together with UK FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft). They were able to acquire evidence against the site operator. The site itself was one of most visited streaming link websites, averaging 400,000 visits daily. You could see many of the popular TV-shows on the site for free, illegally of course.

As expected that bugged the entertainment industry both in UK and US who have done all in their power to stop it. The trial began in May and today the judge sentenced Anton Vickerman to four years in jail. His wife was found not guilty altough she faced the same charges. The MPAA and FACT went so far that they even got an undercover agent to infiltrate their house. This sentence marked the first time ever that one of the linking site owners received jail time for conspiracy to defraud the entertainment industry. Loz Kaye, The UK Pirate Party was very dissapointed with the situation “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. A four year prison sentence is twice the maximum that could have been handed down if Vickers had been charged with online copyright infringement,”

The main problem in this case is that owner was just providing links to streams, the site itself didnt stored any data.  That means that he cannot be charged for copyright infringement but obviously the court showed no tolerance to any kind of suspicious activity and consipracy to defraud was enough to press charges. FACT director Kieron Sharp stated “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. The sentencing indicates the severity of the offenses committed and the sophistication of 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.” Considering all this UK-based site owners with similar website should take care in case they dont want to finish like Vickerman.

[Ed – the sad fact about all of this is that you are more likely to get a hard sentence for alleged copyright infringement than for rape or murder. It is an exceptionally sad state of affairs for many countries that are now under the thumb of the entertainment industry. They have embarked on a new campaign and are working to drop in terms like conspiracy, fraud, money laundering and other buzz words to make the sentences harsher and also allow for seizure of property and assets with little or no real evidence. You can expect to see this type of action continue and possibly get even worse as the industry becomes drunk on their own success]

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