If you’re of the belief that you won’t face charges for simply linking to another site containing pirated movies, music, and/or software, you might want to rethink your current strategy before you find yourself behind bars. According to Worst Previews, a British man has been sentenced to four years in prison for linking to pirated material from his website Surf Channel. Although this sort of punishment is usually levied against those who actually upload the material to the internet, it would seem the courts are taking things in a different direction.
Anton Vickerman didn’t think he was doing anything wrong by linking to the content in question. After all, he didn’t personally make the movies available to those who stopped by his site. However, Vickerman hasn’t been accused of copyright infringement. Instead, he’s being charged with conspiracy to defraud by pointing visitors to places where they can download the latest Hollywood hits.
To make matters worse, it would seem that Vickerman actually made money off the site through advertisements. According to court documents, Surf Channel made over $55,000 per month, which, when you’re peddling pirated content, isn’t necessarily a good thing.
The Hollywood Reporter states that Vickerman was busted for his crimes after an undercover investigator entered the man’s home as a potential house buyer. During his visit to Vickerman’s abode, he secretly snapped several photographs of Anton’s computer equipment.
“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,” explained Kieron Sharp, director of Federation Against Copyright Theft.
Following the arrest of Kim Dotcom, the founder of the popular digital storage service Megaupload, sites like Surf Channel have started to fold left and right. Earlier this year, OneDDL, which is considered to be one of the oldest sites of its kind operating on the internet, abruptly closed its doors forever.
Do you think people should face jail time if they link to pirated material online?