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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019
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First person jailed in UK for linking to pirated copies of TV shows and films

The site was once among the top 500 websites visited globally.

Anton Vickerman arriving at court yesterday.
Anton Vickerman arriving at court yesterday.
Image: Tom White/PA Wire via PA

A 38-YEAR-OLD MAN has been jailed for four years for creating a website which linked to illegal versions of TV programmes and films.

Anton Vickerman, from Gateshead in England, was convicted on two counts of conspiracy to defraud.

Despite never hosting the illegal content himself, his website, surfthechannel.com – which now contains a lengthy message from Vickerman titled ‘A Very British Miscarriage Of Justice’ – linked to other sites which did.

The site, which at one point boasted 400,000 visitors a month, generated monthly revenues of £35,000 (approximately €45,000) through ad sales.

In 2008, Vickerman had attempted to sell the site for £400,000 (approximately €510,000).

According to the Guardian, his arrest in 2008 followed a lengthy sting operation which was undertaken by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) group, which involved the hiring of a private investigator, who secretly filmed inside Vickerman’s house.

Responding to the sentencing, the director general of FACT, Kieron Sharp, said:

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 president of the Film Distributors’ Association, Lord Puttnam, also added:

This case can leave no one in any doubt that internet piracy is controlled by criminals whose profits threaten the ongoing reinvestment in our creative industries.

Addressing the court, the defence for Vickerman stated that their client was now likely to face bankruptcy and that the case had resulted in the breakup of his marriage.

Read: Wikipedia founder starts campaign to stop student being extradited to US >

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Paul Hyland

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