Site owner gets 4 years in prison for unauthorized video sharing

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Surfthechannel.com owner Anton Vickerman has landed himself a stiff four-year prison sentence after running a website which hosted links to unauthorized video content. That's substantially less than the maximum of 10 years he faced, but almost certainly more than he had hoped for.

Before the sentencing, Vickerman posted a lengthy document -- over 18,000 words -- to the website, describing his ordeal in great detail. Although surfthechannel.com has since been taken offline, this Google Cache copy (may disappear at any time) is one possible way to still read the document. His memo is titled, "A Very British Miscarriage Of Justice".

Vickerman, in the open letter, confesses linking to popular destinations like YouTube, Veoh and BBC. However, Cnet notes Vickerman had also linked to content found on MegaUpload and possibly other less-virtuous cloud storage services.

Evidence presented during the case suggested that Vickerman had even uploaded some of the content himself, invoking a particularly harsh sentence due to deliberate, hands-on involvement. While Vickerman wasn't charged for copyright infringement directly, the jury found him guilty of conspiring to facilitate copyright infringement. 

His almost certainly distressed wife, Kelly Vickerman, was also charged on similar counts. However, she was cleared of any wrong doing in June.

According to Vickerman, the website had been in operation since 2007. During peak times, the 38-year-old Briton managed to generate over $55,000 per month in revenue from his video-sharing operation. Revenue was brought in by advertising, like most other illicit file sharing destinations. In 2008 Vickerman raked in roughly $160,000 in profit. 2008 is the same year he attempted to sell his cash cow for about $250,000, but he was unable to find a suitor.

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