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Piracy The Internet United Kingdom Your Rights Online

'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 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 cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @05:05PM (#40989679)

    >>>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. We turned portions of Tokyo and Dresden into fiery infernos that were so hot, all the oxygen was sucked from the air and people died of asphyiation.

    So if the MAFIAA is going to send us letters demanding $5000 or else be drug into court for million-dollar lawsuits, plus distort the record that people who download a song are akin to drug dealers (see the TV ads), then I see nothing wrong with using equal tactics against them. Those aren't people that work at the RIAA or MPAA? They are filty vermin that steal your money, rape your daughters, and eat imported dogs from China for supper. Death to the RIAA and MPAA. Restore freedom to our artists to earn a fair living again.

  • Re:FACT! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fned (43219) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @05:13PM (#40989799) Journal

    FACT: [wikipedia.org] you are a dumbass.

  • 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.

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