Gateshead man Anton Vickerman guilty of world’s biggest pirate movie site

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A man from GATESHEAD who built one of the world’s largest pirate movie websites has been convicted of copyright infringements.

Anton Vickerman, of Deckham, made over $ 50,000 a month from running ads www.surfthechannel.com, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

The website has since been closed.

He was convicted of conspiring to defraud by “facilitating” copyright infringement. His wife, Kelly Vickerman, 39, was cleared of the same charges.

At its peak www.surfthechannel.com was the 500th most visited website in the world, attracted 400,000 users per day and provided access to more than 5,000 pirated movies and TV shows.

Members of the surfthechannel community were encouraged to search, verify and add links, ensuring the site was one of the most up-to-date databases of pirated material anywhere on the net.

Vickerman, 38, created and controlled the site, which was operated by a limited liability company, Scopelight Ltd, which channeled the profits to a bank account in Latvia.

Chief Facts Officer Kieron Sharp said, “These are historic criminal convictions proving that those who operate pirate websites are not outside the law but can be tracked down and brought to justice.

“Mr Vickerman started surfthechannel with the aim of making it one of the world’s top destinations for pirated movies and TV shows and he was making at least £ 35,000 a month from the site alone.

“This was a criminal conspiracy to fund a criminal lifestyle and Vickerman is now paying the price.”

Vickerman designed the “front end” of the website and, via the Internet, recruited programmers who managed the “back end” functions of the site.

These programmers were tasked with breaking security on third party sites that hosted illegal copies of movies.

As a result, surfthechannel has developed a sophisticated and extensive index of movies and TV shows, the majority of which have been obtained illegally from third party sites.

Vickerman did not have permission from the creators of these films or television programs to show or distribute their content.

Lavinia Carey, Managing Director of the British Video Association, added: “A growing number of UK consumers are turning to legitimate online services that offer high quality movies and TV programs for hire or sale.

“These companies are relatively new and should not be competing with pirate websites that do nothing to reinvest in the production of new films and programs.

“The verdict of this lawsuit makes it clear to all that copyright theft will not be tolerated and that such sites are criminal operations.”

:: Buy the Chronicle of Tomorrow for the full story of how the net closed in on a house in Gateshead where one of the world’s largest pirate movie websites was launched.


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