OPPORTUNISTIC ENTREPRENEUR Anton Vickerman, the chap found guilty of facilitating copyright infringement through his Surfthechannel web site, has been sentenced to four years' porridge.
The 38 year old was in court for sentencing yesterday, having been found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud.
Vickerman's web site Surfthechannel was effectively a front end into other web sites where copy protected material was being shown or streamed for free, against the wishes of rightsholders.
According to the Federation against Copyright Theft (FACT), a business set up by Vickerman to run the web site was generating income of over £300,000 per year. FACT added that the web site did not just facilitate theft but also enabled it, and accused Vickerman and his team of uploading content themselves.
Vickerman's four year prison sentence is a win for FACT, and the group is happy that its efforts in catching Vickerman have been rewarded.
"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," said Kieron Sharp, FACT director general.
"Mr Vickerman knew what he was doing from the outset, having been involved in the pirate community for some time. The sentencing indicates the severity of the offences committed and the sophistication of his 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."
Others, however, see the sentencing as a loss, and a disproportionate strike against justice.
"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," said Loz Kaye, leader of the UK Pirate Party.
"A four year prison sentence is twice the maximum that could have been handed down if Vickers had been charged with online copyright infringement." µ