Surfthechannel.com owner sentenced to four years for conspiracy to defraud
Anton Vickerman, the brains behind TV show link directory surfthechannel.com has been sentenced to four years imprisonment on two counts of conspiracy to defraud, due to the facilitation of copyright infringement.
Surfthechannel.com did not host any onlinve video content itself, but instead provided a detailed and up-to-date index of URLs across the internet where infringeing content could ultimately be sourced. The site’s huge database of links had been cleverly crowd-sourced, based on submissions from the site’s users themselves, rather than gathered and organised solely by Mr. Vickerman.
Third party developers were hired to build and maintain the back-end infrastructure that made the link sharing site possible, while Vickerman managed the system as a whole, financing the site with advertising revenue that exceeded £35,000 per month at the site’s peak.
With more than 400,000 visitors to the site per day, the database of links to copyrighted TV shows and films was hugely popular and thoroughly vetted for broken links, making the index extremely accurate, and therefore all the more reliable and popular amongst the site’s dedicated user base.
Due to the fact that these directory-based sites do not actually host any infringing content directly, it has been notoriously difficult to charge the owners for copyright infringement, especially if there has been no financial gain. However, that hasn’t stopped authorities from prosecuting link indexing sites that make a profit via advertising revenue.
With yearly revenues capable of exceeding £250,000, Mr. Vickerman was clearing making a small fortune from the Surfthechannel.com web site and had been looking to sell on the site for £400,000 before he was arrested. It appears profits had been held in a Latvian bank account via a limited company named ‘Scopelight’, which Mr. Vickerman ran.
This is a landmark case that sends out a clear message to site owners that maintaining similar indexes to copyrighted material can, and likely will, lead to imprisonment. Just because the content is not directly hosted by a site, it does rule out charges for the facilitation of copyright infringement, as this case has proven.Tagged in: Anton Vickerman, copyright, surfthechannel.com
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