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'Pirate' Website Owner Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the liable-for-your-hypertext dept.
Grumbleduke writes "Anton Vickerman, who owned SurfTheChannel.com, has been sentenced to 4 years in prison following his conviction last month for 'conspiracy to defraud.' This is the first successful prosecution of an individual in the UK for running a website merely linking to allegedly infringing content (several earlier cases collapsed or resulted in acquittals). Vickerman was prosecuted for the controversial offense of 'conspiracy to defraud' for 'facilitating copyright infringement,' rather than for copyright infringement itself, and it is worth noting that the relevant copyright offense carries a maximum prison sentence of only two years — half of what was given. FACT, the Hollywood-backed enforcement group who were heavily involved in the prosecution noted that the conviction 'should send a very strong message to those running similar sites that they can be found, arrested and end up in prison,' but it remains to be seen whether this will have any effect on pirate sites, or encourage development of the largely hopeless legal market for online film."
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'Pirate' Website Owner Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @04:09PM (#40988835)

    A snausages just for you, boy!! Who's a good U.S. lapdog? Yes, *you* are!!

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @04:34PM (#40989197)

      States are now puppets of the corporations. This is something I can't seem to make anarchist-capitalists understand. They don't comprehend that money == power. With a government the corporations may not exist, but the large companies and rich owners would still be in charge and writing the laws that make us all victims to their whims.

      ALSO: How can a judge enact a punishment that is double that proscribed by law? This looks like a stupid decision just waiting to be overturned by an appeals court.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        FIXED:
        They don't comprehend that money == power. [ Without ] a government the corporations may not exist

      • The problem is political parties - a lone politician isn't going to be able to take hundreds of millions in "party donations" without it looking suspicious, but it's the norm for parties, which have a lone politician at the head. It's time to start a worldwide campaign to vote for independant candidates, whatever your political persuasion.
      • by alexgieg (948359)

        States are now puppets of the corporations. This is something I can't seem to make anarchist-capitalists understand. They don't comprehend that money == power.

        But this happens because the current standard of "doing politics" is money-based. There are alternative systems in which having money doesn't translate into having power (at least not automatically), such as those based on birth (monarchy/feudalism) or merit (the pre-modern Chinese bureaucracy), but they're mostly frown upon, and for good reasons. Then there are those in which money basically isn't permitted, but those also don't solve the issue, as in them you simply declare the de jure political rulers as

        • by C0R1D4N (970153)
          The UK had a system like this, but have been dismantling it over the course of the last 100 years stripping power from the monarchy and the house of lords. Likely the only empire to ever commit suicide.
          • by dryeo (100693)

            And there were a few times when it was the House of Lords that stopped the House of Commons from abusing copyright including when it was introduced, it was the Lords who made the term 14+14 yrs and inserted the reasoning as "to advance learning" whereas the commons was right from the beginning willing to make it permanent.

            • It can go both ways. The Lords fought for years against the ban on fox-hunting with dogs, even though the overwhelming majority of the population supported the ban. Eventully the commons resorted to an obscure technicality that let them force it through regardless.
              • by kraut (2788)

                even though the overwhelming majority of the population supported the ban.

                citation, please.

                I'm pretty sure the "overwhelming majority of the population" doesn't give a fuck one way or the other. The majority of eligible voters don't even bother to vote these days.

        • by gmuslera (3436)
          Could be required that funds for the campaing don't come from "donations" (i.e. mandated tv/media space for each candidate to ensure a fair exposition for each to voters, banning other ways to do campaing). Could be far more transparency that is now not just for president, but for all government, of their money (before, during, and after their mandate) and related positions, Wikileaks should not be a need for the citizens to audit what the people they elect actually do.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JaredOfEuropa (526365)
        Corporations undeniably have considerable power and influence, but that's a far cry from being the state's puppet masters. The problem is: on difficult issues like IP, which most voters are soft on, politicians are open to be swayed either way. By their advisers, who are most likely lobbyists for corporations. That is the big advantage they have over the general populace: not control over politicians; in this case merely having their ear is enough. The politicians do not understand the issue and are hap
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Afecks (899057)

        With a government the corporations may not exist, but the large companies and rich owners would still be in charge and writing the laws that make us all victims to their whims.

        You clearly don't understand anarcho-capitalism. There would be only one law: Keep your hands off other people and their property without their permission.

        Obviously, a definition of what counts as "people", "property" and "permission" need to go along with that single law but it's fairly intuitive. Anything capable of asserting itself as a person is one. You can claim unowned property by marking it as yours and taking an interest in it. No you can't claim the moon when you've never been there. No you can't

        • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @05:39PM (#40990047) Journal

          You clearly don't understand anarcho-capitalism. There would be only one law: Keep your hands off other people and their property without their permission.

          When the entire city, including the roadways, police, education system is owned by a private corporation, how does one live a lawful life without selling oneself to the corporation?

          Knowing all that, how on earth do you get the idea that following these ideas can end up with the "rich" stuffing poor people into meat grinders for their amusement?

          The gilded age. There but for government regulations won by a strong labor movement go we.

          The only way anyone could get rich is by serving wants of the masses with lower priced higher quality goods and services than the competition.

          Yes, and because of economies of scale the rich can provide higher quality goods and services than the poor can. The consequence of this is wealth concentrating in fewer and fewer hands. Money makes money faster than labor does. Without specific provisions(like say, government regulation) to stop this, inequality will rule until the poor rise up and slaughter everyone. Is that what you want?

          • by Arker (91948)

            When the entire city, including the roadways, police, education system is owned by a private corporation

            What you refer to as a 'private corporation' is one of the things that simply would not exist in a free market, so it obviously could not wind up owning a city.

            Without specific provisions(like say, government regulation) to stop this, inequality will rule until the poor rise up and slaughter everyone.

            You actually have it backwards. Gross inequities arise out of government regulation to begin with, and me

            • by metacell (523607)

              Gross inequities arise out of government regulation to begin with, and mechanics like regulatory capture effectively ensure that the more power the government has to 'regulate' the more that the government effectively re-enforces and entrenches those inequities. The stories you have been taught of the 'gilded age' will have many half truths and deceptions, probably the largest being the lack of mention that each and every 'robber baron' owed his success to lobbyists and friendly congressmen, not some mythical free market which didnt actually exist.

              That's probably true in many cases, but there are also cases where corporations have become so large by themselves that they can manipulate the market and get rid of competition. For example, Microsoft.

        • by KiloByte (825081)

          And more important, you need to define what can be "property". In various times and places, such definitions included people and ideas.

          • And more important, you need to define what can be "property". In various times and places, such definitions included people and ideas.

            I think those issues have already been addressed. You can't stake a claim to another person because there is already an owner—that person. And as implied by the GP's brief definition, ownership is not fundamentally the right to exclude others from using or benefiting from something, though that often comes with it to some degree as a side-effect of scarcity, but rather the right to freedom from interference in your own use of the property. "Ownership" of an idea is thus meaningless—as an abstrac

            • by metacell (523607)

              I think those issues have already been addressed. You can't stake a claim to another person because there is already an owner—that person. And as implied by the GP's brief definition, ownership is not fundamentally the right to exclude others from using or benefiting from something, though that often comes with it to some degree as a side-effect of scarcity, but rather the right to freedom from interference in your own use of the property. "Ownership" of an idea is thus meaningless—as an abstract concept, there is no way for others to interfere with your use, at least not without directly interfering with you, so there is no point in staking a claim.

              I think quite a few people would object to that. For example, it would allow people to trespass anywhere as long as they didn't disturb anyone or anything. It would allow people to sell themselves as slaves. And there are ultra-libertarians who believe ownership is about protecting the fruits of their labour, so making use of someone's idea is like stealing from them (for example, if you sell copies of someone else's invention, and they sell fewer copies as a result).

              The dream of a purely libertarian societ

        • by Xest (935314)

          "Obviously, a definition of what counts as "people", "property" and "permission" need to go along with that single law but it's fairly intuitive."

          It's never simple.

          In the UK we banned smoking in enclosed public places some years back, and now there is talk of strengthening the ban further. The argument by smokers has always been "But it's my body, I should have the right to do what I want" and this is the classic libertarian argument. What it completely and utterly ignores though is that people like me have

      • by Baki (72515)

        I'll vote for the pirate party or extreme left until this stops.

        Sooner or later pirate parties and other opponents of intellectual property rights (or at least these rights getting more and more strict) will come to power in Europe, and actions of this criminal industry will come back at them like a boomerang.

        They'll regret sentences like these when copyrights will be abolished. Looking forward to that day.

        • by metacell (523607)

          Sooner or later pirate parties and other opponents of intellectual property rights (or at least these rights getting more and more strict) will come to power in Europe, and actions of this criminal industry will come back at them like a boomerang.

          They'll regret sentences like these when copyrights will be abolished. Looking forward to that day.

          I think the CEOs and lawyers will laugh as they enjoy the money they've already earned and stashed away, and not care one bit about how wrong they were. The rich or powerful almost always find a way to get away.

      • by jeremyp (130771)

        ALSO: How can a judge enact a punishment that is double that proscribed by law? This looks like a stupid decision just waiting to be overturned by an appeals court.

        The judge didn't enact a punishment that is double that prescribed by law. That comment in the summary is alluding to the fact that the conviction was obtained on a charge of "conspiracy to defraud", not of "copyright infringement".

        Presumably the prosecutors thought they had a better chance of conviction with that charge because merely linking to a site with copyright infringing material is not in itself infringing copyright (you haven't copied anything) whereas, they do have a fighting chance of proving t

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @04:11PM (#40988875) Journal

    So when can we expect "conspiracy to defraud" cases to be initiated against, e.g., the suits in charge of RBS leading up to the 2008 financial crisis?

    • by Mitreya (579078) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ayertim>> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @04:16PM (#40988949)

      when can we expect "conspiracy to defraud" cases to be initiated e.g., the suits in charge of RBS

      As soon one of them pirates Margin Call [imdb.com].

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Obviously the best solution to be a criminal, is to just be a white collar criminal. It's more profitable than being a pirate or working.

    • by wild_quinine (998562) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @04:44PM (#40989375) Homepage

      So when can we expect "conspiracy to defraud" cases to be initiated against, e.g., the suits in charge of RBS leading up to the 2008 financial crisis?

      No. Clearly not. Those people are important

      Actually though, the conspiracy to defraud bit is important. He can't be charged with Copyright Infringement, because he didn't do it. He can't be charged with contributory copyright infringement, because that's not even a crime. So instead he's been done on 'conspiracy to defraud', a law which is considered wobbly at the best of times.

      But it gets worse. The sentence handed down is double the maximum possible sentence for copyright infringement.

      We've done him worse than he would have been done for the crime he didn't even commit.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        It's one thing to share stuff between friends, it's another to make between £12,000 and £60,000 a month from sharing other peoples content. Clearly the site was profit-oriented. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2188262/Surfthechannel-com-Internet-pirate-earned-60-000-month-download-site-jailed-4-years.html [dailymail.co.uk]

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Then how about they charge him with something concrete?

          Maybe he found a loophole in the law just like the banks, corps and traders have been doing for decades. If he was making REAL money, he wouldn't be found guilty. Just ask the real neuveau riche

        • It's one thing to share stuff between friends, it's another to make between £12,000 and £60,000 a month from sharing other peoples content. Clearly the site was profit-oriented.

          Yes, quite so. But then, copyright infringement is not a crime when it is 'done between friends'. It becomes a crime at around the value of £1500, if I remember correctly. And there's a law dealing with criminal copyright infringement which has a maximum sentence of two years. So there's the distinction you were looking for, and I would say that two years is harsh enough.

          However, linking to infringing content is NOT copyright infringement. So even though this guy helped a lot of people infringe cop

          • Yes, quite so. But then, copyright infringement is not a crime when it is 'done between friends'. It becomes a crime at around the value of £1500, if I remember correctly.

            Actually, you just have to infringe copyright "in the course of business" or "otherwise than in the course of a business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright" [legislation.gov.uk] if you're dealing with infringement by communicating the work to the public (i.e. filesharing - see s107(2A)).

            However, linking to infringing content is NOT copyright infringement. So even though this guy helped a lot of people infringe copyright, he didn't actively copy the content himself, which means he's not guilty of that crime. And there is no crime of contributory copyright infringement. So they can't do him on that.

            Actually... it might be. It depends on what counts as "communication to the public." In the TVShack case, Richard O'Dwyer is being extradited on the basis that what he did amounted to criminal copyright infri

            • Actually, you just have to infringe copyright "in the course of business" or "otherwise than in the course of a business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright" [legislation.gov.uk] if you're dealing with infringement by communicating the work to the public (i.e. filesharing - see s107(2A)).

              ... It depends on what counts as "communication to the public."

              Reading that law, it seems clear to me that that 'communicating to the public' is being used to describe the act of reproduction without license (the infringement itself, to be a little circular about it), but not the act of directing another party to an external thing which infringes, even if you willfully intend for copyright to be infringed as a result.

              I imagine the word communicating is used as a catchall for whichever form of transmission is used to reproduce or recreate the work without license, but

              • Reading that law, it seems clear to me that that 'communicating to the public' is being used to describe the act of reproduction without license (the infringement itself, to be a little circular about it), but not the act of directing another party to an external thing which infringes, even if you willfully intend for copyright to be infringed as a result.

                Ok, after about an hour of reading through textbooks, cases and journal articles, you're probably right. There is an odd Scottish case from the 90s (Shetland Times v Wills) that seemed to say otherwise (an injunction was granted blocking someone from running a website in which they linked to news articles on another site), but the law has changed a bit since then, and there is also an interesting comment where the judge seems to predict the change in the law by noting that it's the claimant's (or pursuer's

          • by Culture20 (968837)

            can you tell me in what world do you think it is OK to scour the lawbooks and find someone guilty of a crime with a higher maximum sentence than the crime you'd like to get them on but can't because they didn't commit it.

            Doesn't that seem just a little bit, I don't know, corrupt?

            Depends on whether the defendant is actually guilty of the second, more serious crime.
            DA: "We can't get him on copyright infringement for lack of evidence, but he did kill a guy last week. Can we settle for a murder charge?"

        • Except he didn't share other peoples content. That was the whole point of the post you replied to. It helps to read these things before you comment.

        • Why can't he just pay a "settlement" that amounts to a small fraction of the money he made from this? I mean, if that works for Standard Charter and the State of New York, why not for him? His crime wasn't anything near as severe as laundering $250B for a blacklisted country.

  • by rcuhljr (1132713)
    I was really hoping for more useful information at the "Largely Hopeless" hyperlink, I should have examined the url first.
  • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @04:15PM (#40988929)
    Now you Brits know how we Americans feel when we wipe with our Constitution. Based on my read of BBC's coverage, looks like this guy was guilty until proven innocent.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      The UK Parliament over the last 300 years has steadily-but-surely turned the Magna Carta into just a piece of paper. Out of the whole document there is only one sentence that is still active. All the other laws of the MC have been nullified (via simple majority vote).

      Perhaps your ancestors should have made clear that the Carta was the supreme law of the land, and can not be nullified by lesser laws, as my ancestors did in 1786 with the Constitution. Anything our "parliament" passes has zero weight if it

      • by iserlohn (49556)

        The constitution of the UK is based on political acceptability due to the doctrine of Parlimentary sovereignty and the widespread use of convention within the apparatus of government. There are of course drawbacks in this system, but many people overlook the benefits - legislation cannot be challenged in court for constitutionality, resulting in a legislative program which can push changes through as long as the government has the mandate politically. Think of the issues that Obama faced *after* passing the

        • by C0R1D4N (970153)
          And rightfully so, the Constitution was specific about what is the responsibility of the Federal government. Anything else was the responsibility of the state governments. If we as a nation truly want the Federal government to take over healthcare it should be going through the amendment process. Half the nation isn't interested in that though, so it's just easier to push it through with bribes/promises to congressman and then have the Supreme Court violate their oath.
          • by iserlohn (49556)

            But it is wrong to say that the constitution prohibits the federal government from "taking over" (in your words) healthcare. Remember Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government already has it's fingers in the heathcare pie? The constitutional consideration was whether the federal government can fine you for failing to take out health insurance. Is this even a constitutional matter? Most people would say not. Americans have been paying federal taxes and fines for quite a while now and it is well within th

            • The constitutional consideration was whether the federal government can fine you for failing to take out health insurance. Is this even a constitutional matter? Most people would say not.

              And most people would be incorrect. The compulsion (and subsequent penalty) is well beyond the Federal government's power. Calling it a tax was a way for the Supreme Court to sidestep the whole issue of the federal government going overboard and telling you what you can and cannot do with your after-tax money.

              If the origina

              • by iserlohn (49556)

                It leads back to my original premise - political acceptability. Only that in America millions was spent on litigation and the legislative program was put in real limbo for quite a while due to this politically driven sideshow.

                If the supreme court has decided that it is within the Constitution, then it is - their interpretation is the only interpretation that matters legally. You know why? because that is what the Constitution says! If the people then accept this politically, as they have been for the past 1

                • by metacell (523607)

                  Do you reason the same way when the Supreme Court rules contrary to your political opinion? E.g, gun control, the death penalty, abortion...

              • by metacell (523607)

                Can the individual states mandate their citizens to buy broccoli (without violating the constitution)?

          • Until someone realised that the commerce clause could be used as one hell of a loophole.
        • There are of course drawbacks in this system, but many people overlook the benefits - legislation cannot be challenged in court for constitutionality, resulting in a legislative program which can push changes through as long as the government has the mandate politically.

          Frankly, I'm not sure any possible benefits can outweigh as major a drawback as this one. The stronger the political mandate becomes, the more need there is for constitutional protection for the rights of the minority.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          >>>There are of course drawbacks in this system, but many people overlook the benefits - legislation cannot be challenged in court for constitutionality, resulting in a legislative program which can push changes through as long as the government has the mandate politically
          >>>
          Like rounding-up the Jews and exterminating (or exporting them) in the 1930s. A lot of Brits prior to WW2 were in favor of expelling Jews from the isles and sending them to Palestine..... it's just that the Germans en

  • Merely linking? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Havenwar (867124) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @04:16PM (#40988945)

    While I'm a rather happy pirate and pirate supporter, I don't think you can quite count it as "merely linking" if you actively source pirated material to link to. The flimsy excuse the pirate bay has for instance is that it's "just an indexing site" and can just as happily be used for legal material... when you are going out and looking for pirated stuff to link to, "merely" leaves the table.

    Also I might just be tired, but the summary makes it seem like he got four years out of a maximum of two possible - that's not the case. He got 4 years out of a maximum of TEN possible according to the articles I've seen about it.

    And now I feel all dirty for having to take the wrong side in this argument. I wish people would understand that if we stopped using hyperbole and chest thumping tactics we'd win on default in the eyes of the public. With articles like this, misrepresenting facts, twisting words, transparent agendas... That's as low and useless as the *AA tactics we oppose.

    I need a shower, proceed with the discussion without me.

    • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @04:26PM (#40989077)

      Ten years for running a site that linked largely older content that wasn't on TV or offered any where on line. Ya The guy deserves years in a federal pound you in the ass prison.

      The problem is this guy should of ran the site under the guise of a corporation, JPmorgan only got fiend like 4 million dollars after making 21 million on a price fixing scheme in New York. No one went to jail and they got to keep a cool 17 million dollars that they stole from the people of New York.

      • by maroberts (15852)

        The problem is this guy should of ran the site under the guise of a corporation,.

        Actually he did run the site as a Limited Company (equivalent of a Corporation in the UK) so that idea didn't carry much water

      • by xaxa (988988) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @04:50PM (#40989447)

        Ya The guy deserves years in a federal pound you in the ass prison.

        Please not that on this side of the Atlantic, anal rape is not seen as an appropriate punishment.

      • by cupantae (1304123)

        Stealing from the plebs doesn't matter. This guy is (possibly) reducing the profits of copyright holders, which is evidently far more serious.

      • He deliberately sought out and "quality checked" pirated material, and then made large sums of money off advertising on his site. In other words he made serious bank from a professional piracy operation - abusing other peoples work for personal profit.

        I don't have any sympathy for this guy. It's good that he got sent down. The only WTF in this case, as far as I can see, is that there's no law on the books directly for that kind of thing. Probably there should be.

    • by pla (258480) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @04:30PM (#40989131) Journal
      I don't think you can quite count it as "merely linking" if you actively source pirated material to link to.

      Welcome to the intersection of copyright as the default state of any creative work, and the internet.

      Everything on the internet has a copyright on it, and you do not (usually) have permission from the copyright holder to link to it.

      Yes, we can all quibble over this as an egregious example, but it sets a really bad precedent that moves us solidly back in the direction of "producers" and "consumers", rather than "participants".
      • You don't need permission to link to something.

        • Some UK lawyers, judges and academics disagree. Apparently linking is argued to count as "communicating to the public" or something. Hopefully this will be fixed in either the O'Dwyer extradition appeal, or an upcoming Supreme Court case. But for now there's enough doubt that the judge in this case was able to tell the jury that running the site was definitely illegal (which may be grounds for an appeal).

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>While I'm a rather happy pirate and pirate supporter, I don't think you can quite count it as "merely linking" if you actively source pirated material to link to.

      So what's next?
      I'll be arrested for "conspiracy to hate" because I link to KKK.com? Arrested for "conspiracy to aid & abet" because I link to iran.gov? Arrested for "conspiracy to demean the reputation of the U.S. Congress" because I link to alexjones.com?

      Free speech means free speech in ALL things, even if we don't like what the

      • As far as I'm aware, nowhere in the world actually has an absolute right to free speech codified in law. In fact, that would be pretty crazy, because speech is powerful and absolute protection of free speech would give people the power to do immense damage to other people without penalty.

        Your strawman arguments are not the same as what this guy did. He was quite blatantly and knowingly running a system to help other people break the law. Why would you think any reasonable legal system should condone such be

        • As far as I'm aware, nowhere in the world actually has an absolute right to free speech codified in law.

          I'm amazed that you somehow managed to skip the U.S.A. in your research:

          Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; ....

          There you have it, an absolute right to free speech in perfectly plain English. Any law which imposes a fine or punishment, or any other penalty, as a response to any speech on any subject whatsoever is unconstitutional.

          That does not eliminate all potential fallout, of course. The First Amendment does not force any private individual to like you, or to associate with you; you can expect social ostracism and other extra-legal consequence

          • Summed up nicely.

            Unlike the current legal framework/arguments being used to punish people such as the one in the article. Also he was probably confused by the difference between the intent of the constitution and the current state of affairs.

          • I'm amazed that you somehow managed to skip the U.S.A. in your research:

            Would that be the same U.S.A. that is arguably the world's strongest proponent of intellectual property laws? And where there are no defamation lawsuits, except for all the ones there have been, and there are no explicit defamation laws, because the one third or so of the states where it's actually a criminal matter just misunderstood? Next time you go through airport security, you should tell the security guys a joke about having a bomb, too, because I hear they have a great sense of humour about that kind

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>With articles like this, misrepresenting facts, twisting words, transparent agendas... That's as low and useless as the *AA tactics we oppose.

      I see nothing wrong with adopting the tactics of the enemy. We didn't beat the Nazis and the Military Oligarchy of Japan by politely targeting factories & saying, "Please surrender. We'll give you tea and cookies." No. We adopted the enemy's tactics of blitzkrieg and dive-bombing. We converted explosive bombs to incendiary bombs and struck hard.

      • Well, its my opinion that they should be the first ones to meet Dr. Guillotine when the revolution happens.
    • by Dan667 (564390) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @05:30PM (#40989973)
      Your tact is still wrong. You have to go on offense. Instead of discussing this people should instead be discussing why Hollywood Accounting is not being aggressively dealt with. Directors, Actors, Musicians, ... losses from Hollywood Accounting are huge and US taxpayers are losing big as well.
    • by Grumbleduke (789126) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @06:32PM (#40990673) Journal

      As the author of the summary, perhaps I should clarify.

      With regard to "merely linking", he was convicted of conspiracy to defraud for "facilitating copyright infringement" through running a website. The website didn't host any videos, but merely linked to them. The "merely" is applied to distinguish linking from hosting, or sharing directly (there have been a few successful prosecutions in the UK for people actually sharing stuff). This distinction is important because there's a lot of doubt in the UK (and elsewhere) as to whether or not "linking" is actually copyright infringement.

      Also I might just be tired, but the summary makes it seem like he got four years out of a maximum of two possible - that's not the case. He got 4 years out of a maximum of TEN possible according to the articles I've seen about it.

      The point I was trying to make here (and I note that what I wrote was edited, not sure what I actually wrote, but I wouldn't have spelt "offence" with an s in that context) was that had he actually been charged with criminal copyright infringement, he would have faced a maximum of 2 years in prison. But because FACT/the MPAA went with the broader, but highly controversial (to the extent that the Law Commission recommended it be repealed years ago, and there are strict restrictions on when public prosecutions for it can be brought - this was a private prosecution) offence of "conspiracy to defraud", which criminalises a "dishonest agreement" to do something that may not itself be unlawful or cause any harm. But yes, that offence does have a maximum sentence of 10 years.

    • While I'm a rather happy pirate and pirate supporter, I don't think you can quite count it as "merely linking" if you actively source pirated material to link to. The flimsy excuse the pirate bay has for instance is that it's "just an indexing site" and can just as happily be used for legal material...

      The site in question was indeed linking to also non-pirated material. I guess that kinda destroys your entire point.

  • You won't have anybody to change your bedpans in ten or twenty years. Then what? Well, I guess there's always immigration to fill in, and you get more people to lock up and make work for free.

    The fraud didn't matter. That's a part of everyday business amongst the big boys. No, the problem here was he picked the wrong target.

  • Move your servers to a country ending in -stan that has real problems, where judges kick you out of their courtrooms for coming up with stuff like that.

    • Move your servers to a country ending in -stan that has real problems, where judges kick you out of their courtrooms for coming up with stuff like that.

      That works fine while you're serving to people in X-stan. Once you start serving globally, and once you're on the radar, I think you'll find that the over-reaching arm of the law will be quite long enough.

      If you're in a country which is suitably civilized, you'll be extradited. See Kim DotCom. If it's not suitably civilized, I'd imagine worse things happen.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @04:24PM (#40989051) Homepage Journal
    So, I suppose this means giving people jail time for minor civil infractions (while letting major crimes, such as international larceny [thedailybeast.com] and funding terrorism, [businessinsider.com] go unpunished) is the new normal?

    Looks like Vickerman's real crime was not being wealthy enough to buy his way out of trouble...



    This world, she is fucked...
    • by Desler (1608317)

      He wasn't tried for a civil offense. You must be out of the loop since the TRIPS agreement maintained by WIPO introduced crimInal liability for copyright offenses years ago.

      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @04:58PM (#40989587) Homepage Journal

        He wasn't tried for a civil offense. You must be out of the loop since the TRIPS agreement maintained by WIPO introduced crimInal liability for copyright offenses years ago.

        Not at all, I just flat-out will not accept the re-assignment of a civil infraction into a criminal one, just because some corporate assholes paid off a couple politicians.

        Society should not allow people to be jailed and have their livelihoods stolen over goddamn entertainment media. It's sick, and I for one refuse to so much as acknowledge the idea.

      • Except he wasn't charged with copyright infringement. He was charged with conspiracy to defraud, which covers a dishonest agreement to do something that might cause someone a loss (or not to make a gain, or injure a property right they have), even though the actual something may not itself be illegal (either criminally, or under civil law).

        If he had been charged with copyright infringement, there's a good chance he would have been found not guilty (as copyright may not cover linking etc.), and if not, would

  • So when are youtube's owning stake in the UK being locked up for this one then?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBn4RMTU9SU (the crow - full movie)

  • That last link in the summary purports to link to an article explaining why the legal online film market is hopeless. All it links to is a tweet saying that the legal online film market is hopeless, and in turn links to the BBC report about this conviction. There is no evidence presented to back up the claim that the legal online film market is "hopeless", whatever that means.

    If anyone has a link to a better article backing up this claim, I'm all ears.

  • link [rt.com]

    "[W]hat Kim Dotcom ran is just a service that's like a post office. He was the post office it was being mailed to,"

    "Why do you shut down the post office thinking that's where the problem is? It's not,"
  • I don't live in a corporatist police state and I am serving just a shitload of torrents right now in addition to my large sneakernet operation and free offerings of pirate education. Does that make you mad? Come get me, fuckers.

  • "We are so far above the law and so deep in government's pockets, that we can even have a sentence imposed that's double the legal maximum"

    Message received, loud and clear.

    I'm 52 now. I've lived from the "home taping is killing music" era of my first portable cassette player, until today - and yet I don't see any compelling evidence whatsoever of anything being killed.

    I do hope I live long enough to see the ultimate demise of these "new, legal" organised crime bosses, when their business model finally implo

  • They are talking about Copyright INFRINGEMENT, not THEFT. Stealing copyright would entail the illegal transference of rights from the legitimate owner to the thief, and that's not the case here. How can an organization mainly composed of lawyers not know this?

    Now, I expect them to prosecute Google next. Regardless of rankings, you can still find every bit of publicly accessible pirate content using Google's search engine, just a single click away. That must be a much, much worse violation and thus ripe for

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