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'Pirate' Website Owner Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the liable-for-your-hypertext dept.

Piracy 212

Grumbleduke writes "Anton Vickerman, who owned SurfTheChannel.com, has been sentenced to 4 years in prison following his conviction last month for 'conspiracy to defraud.' This is the first successful prosecution of an individual in the UK for running a website merely linking to allegedly infringing content (several earlier cases collapsed or resulted in acquittals). Vickerman was prosecuted for the controversial offense of 'conspiracy to defraud' for 'facilitating copyright infringement,' rather than for copyright infringement itself, and it is worth noting that the relevant copyright offense carries a maximum prison sentence of only two years — half of what was given. FACT, the Hollywood-backed enforcement group who were heavily involved in the prosecution noted that the conviction 'should send a very strong message to those running similar sites that they can be found, arrested and end up in prison,' but it remains to be seen whether this will have any effect on pirate sites, or encourage development of the largely hopeless legal market for online film."

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Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK!!! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40988835)

A snausages just for you, boy!! Who's a good U.S. lapdog? Yes, *you* are!!

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989097)

Funny how the former master becomes the slave.

Fallacy (1)

s.petry (762400) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989135)

Are you sure who is the master and who is the slave? Really? Argue semantics after the regime is ousted and we can find out, but while the regime runs unchecked you don't know any better than I who is the master.

international terrs (2, Interesting)

harvey the nerd (582806) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989401)

The US Gov has mutated and is deep into international extortion and terrorism, even on a retail basis. Basically, governments all over the world need to tell them and their weaslely spying and extortion to get stuffed ans stay home. We taxpayers would appreciate it, too.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990763)

One reason: World War II.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989197)

States are now puppets of the corporations. This is something I can't seem to make anarchist-capitalists understand. They don't comprehend that money == power. With a government the corporations may not exist, but the large companies and rich owners would still be in charge and writing the laws that make us all victims to their whims.

ALSO: How can a judge enact a punishment that is double that proscribed by law? This looks like a stupid decision just waiting to be overturned by an appeals court.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989299)

FIXED:
They don't comprehend that money == power. [ Without ] a government the corporations may not exist

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989313)

The problem is political parties - a lone politician isn't going to be able to take hundreds of millions in "party donations" without it looking suspicious, but it's the norm for parties, which have a lone politician at the head. It's time to start a worldwide campaign to vote for independant candidates, whatever your political persuasion.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (2)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989745)

States are now puppets of the corporations. This is something I can't seem to make anarchist-capitalists understand. They don't comprehend that money == power.

But this happens because the current standard of "doing politics" is money-based. There are alternative systems in which having money doesn't translate into having power (at least not automatically), such as those based on birth (monarchy/feudalism) or merit (the pre-modern Chinese bureaucracy), but they're mostly frown upon, and for good reasons. Then there are those in which money basically isn't permitted, but those also don't solve the issue, as in them you simply declare the de jure political rulers as being the de facto owners of 100% of the money, there not existing any distinction whatsoever anymore. The solution, if any, definitely isn't clear.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989979)

Actually I would combine something similar to the current system, read democracy, with a second house which can veto any parliament decision and is composed of people chosen at random from the population.

This second house should be composed of more people then your typical parliament to achieve a representative subset of the population.

I would make them serve an eight year term. Two years spent on education about laws, history, etc. Four Years serving as members of this house. Two more years time off to get back into their normal lives.

Of course this is expensive, but I think it would give the will of the people at least a fighting chance.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990083)

The UK had a system like this, but have been dismantling it over the course of the last 100 years stripping power from the monarchy and the house of lords. Likely the only empire to ever commit suicide.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990373)

Could be required that funds for the campaing don't come from "donations" (i.e. mandated tv/media space for each candidate to ensure a fair exposition for each to voters, banning other ways to do campaing). Could be far more transparency that is now not just for president, but for all government, of their money (before, during, and after their mandate) and related positions, Wikileaks should not be a need for the citizens to audit what the people they elect actually do.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (2, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989817)

Corporations undeniably have considerable power and influence, but that's a far cry from being the state's puppet masters. The problem is: on difficult issues like IP, which most voters are soft on, politicians are open to be swayed either way. By their advisers, who are most likely lobbyists for corporations. That is the big advantage they have over the general populace: not control over politicians; in this case merely having their ear is enough. The politicians do not understand the issue and are happy to be "properly" informed, and most voters do not give a damn.

In the USA, the situation is slightly worse perhaps: you guys are a nation of lawyers, or at least it is them who are in control. With the president reiterating that IP is the key to the future of American economics, and lawyers having a vested interest in endless IP-related litigation, you can forget about patent or copyright laws ever being reformed. That is, unless politicians and lawmakers with a conscience, and with a decent understanding of the issue, take office. Fat chance of that.

In the Netherlands, national politics is utterly boned. The largest parties are either socialists who stick to their ideology but unfortunately have the wrong one, and the liberals (= moderate right wing) who have a good ideology but seem to have forgotten it completely. I think my vote might go to the Pirate Party this time.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (2, Insightful)

Afecks (899057) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989897)

With a government the corporations may not exist, but the large companies and rich owners would still be in charge and writing the laws that make us all victims to their whims.

You clearly don't understand anarcho-capitalism. There would be only one law: Keep your hands off other people and their property without their permission.

Obviously, a definition of what counts as "people", "property" and "permission" need to go along with that single law but it's fairly intuitive. Anything capable of asserting itself as a person is one. You can claim unowned property by marking it as yours and taking an interest in it. No you can't claim the moon when you've never been there. No you can't claim an entire continent by planting a flag on a beach. Permission requires non-fraudulent consent. Knowing all that, how on earth do you get the idea that following these ideas can end up with the "rich" stuffing poor people into meat grinders for their amusement?

The only way anyone could get rich is by serving wants of the masses with lower priced higher quality goods and services than the competition. In a free market, if we all want Nike shoes and McDonald's hamburgers, Adidas and Wendy's are going broke and there's nothing they can do about it. The "poor" decide who becomes "rich". Consumers have the ultimate power, not producers. With services like Urbanspoon, Yelp, etc, you can't even claim much of an asymmetry of information. If your product sucks, a few people might experience it firsthand but word will spread quickly and you'll be out of business in no time. With government intervention, Wendy's could claim that McDonald's has a monopoly and get subsidized, etc, etc. Even though everyone wants McDonald's, Wendy's can play political favors to waste time and money giving us what we don't want.

If you want to then argue that popular taste sucks, you're just being a snob. We each are the judge of what we like best. If you think that because your opinion is a minority that you'll be left out in the cold, you're wrong again. It's the government that necessarily reduces variety with regulations and market intervention. In a free market, if you want something bad enough and willing to pay for it, you'll get it, even if it's raw milk or fish pedicures.

For more insight, I recommend that you read "The Machinery of Freedom" by David Friedman.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990047)

You clearly don't understand anarcho-capitalism. There would be only one law: Keep your hands off other people and their property without their permission.

When the entire city, including the roadways, police, education system is owned by a private corporation, how does one live a lawful life without selling oneself to the corporation?

Knowing all that, how on earth do you get the idea that following these ideas can end up with the "rich" stuffing poor people into meat grinders for their amusement?

The gilded age. There but for government regulations won by a strong labor movement go we.

The only way anyone could get rich is by serving wants of the masses with lower priced higher quality goods and services than the competition.

Yes, and because of economies of scale the rich can provide higher quality goods and services than the poor can. The consequence of this is wealth concentrating in fewer and fewer hands. Money makes money faster than labor does. Without specific provisions(like say, government regulation) to stop this, inequality will rule until the poor rise up and slaughter everyone. Is that what you want?

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (2)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990333)

And more important, you need to define what can be "property". In various times and places, such definitions included people and ideas.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990669)

People are property. Ideas are not. And before someone says "ZOMG SLAVERY". We each own ourselves. Insofar as I own something, I can do whatever I want with it. If I want to ink my body up, put holes in it, put drugs in it, sell parts of it, kidneys, blood, hair, etc, or all of it, even kill myself, it's my choice. Insofar as I can't do something with my body, I don't own it. If you say I can't get a tattoo or a piercing, my body is that much under someone's control/ownership. If I want to sell myself into slavery voluntarily, by my own choice, that's my right. Telling me what I can't do with my body is involuntary slavery, much worse. That being said, don't confuse what we should tolerate with what we should endorse. I will tolerate people doing heroin but I don't endorse it, the opposite, actually. I don't think anyone should ever do heroin. I don't think anyone should sell themselves into slavery. I also think anyone that would buy a slave is immoral and not a nice person. However, the idea of tolerating consenting acts between adults should apply inside the bedroom and out.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (1)

Baki (72515) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990135)

I'll vote for the pirate party or extreme left until this stops.

Sooner or later pirate parties and other opponents of intellectual property rights (or at least these rights getting more and more strict) will come to power in Europe, and actions of this criminal industry will come back at them like a boomerang.

They'll regret sentences like these when copyrights will be abolished. Looking forward to that day.

Re:Good boyyy!!!! You're going to get a treat, UK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990579)

Yeah, because the extreme left never- oh, what's the point. Your mind is gone.

strangely applicable fortune at bottom of page (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40988873)

All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means. -- Chou En Lai

Conspiracy to defraud (5, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40988875)

So when can we expect "conspiracy to defraud" cases to be initiated against, e.g., the suits in charge of RBS leading up to the 2008 financial crisis?

Re:Conspiracy to defraud (3, Funny)

Mitreya (579078) | more than 2 years ago | (#40988949)

when can we expect "conspiracy to defraud" cases to be initiated e.g., the suits in charge of RBS

As soon one of them pirates Margin Call [imdb.com] .

Re:Conspiracy to defraud (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40988999)

Obviously the best solution to be a criminal, is to just be a white collar criminal. It's more profitable than being a pirate or working.

Re:Conspiracy to defraud (5, Insightful)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989375)

So when can we expect "conspiracy to defraud" cases to be initiated against, e.g., the suits in charge of RBS leading up to the 2008 financial crisis?

No. Clearly not. Those people are important

Actually though, the conspiracy to defraud bit is important. He can't be charged with Copyright Infringement, because he didn't do it. He can't be charged with contributory copyright infringement, because that's not even a crime. So instead he's been done on 'conspiracy to defraud', a law which is considered wobbly at the best of times.

But it gets worse. The sentence handed down is double the maximum possible sentence for copyright infringement.

We've done him worse than he would have been done for the crime he didn't even commit.

Re:Conspiracy to defraud (1, Interesting)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990137)

It's one thing to share stuff between friends, it's another to make between £12,000 and £60,000 a month from sharing other peoples content. Clearly the site was profit-oriented. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2188262/Surfthechannel-com-Internet-pirate-earned-60-000-month-download-site-jailed-4-years.html [dailymail.co.uk]

Re:Conspiracy to defraud (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990263)

Then how about they charge him with something concrete?

Maybe he found a loophole in the law just like the banks, corps and traders have been doing for decades. If he was making REAL money, he wouldn't be found guilty. Just ask the real neuveau riche

Re:Conspiracy to defraud (2)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990303)

It's one thing to share stuff between friends, it's another to make between £12,000 and £60,000 a month from sharing other peoples content. Clearly the site was profit-oriented.

Yes, quite so. But then, copyright infringement is not a crime when it is 'done between friends'. It becomes a crime at around the value of £1500, if I remember correctly. And there's a law dealing with criminal copyright infringement which has a maximum sentence of two years. So there's the distinction you were looking for, and I would say that two years is harsh enough.

However, linking to infringing content is NOT copyright infringement. So even though this guy helped a lot of people infringe copyright, he didn't actively copy the content himself, which means he's not guilty of that crime. And there is no crime of contributory copyright infringement. So they can't do him on that.

If that's all clear, can you tell me in what world do you think it is OK to scour the lawbooks and find someone guilty of a crime with a higher maximum sentence than the crime you'd like to get them on but can't because they didn't commit it.

Doesn't that seem just a little bit, I don't know, corrupt?

Re:Conspiracy to defraud (1)

Grumbleduke (789126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990531)

Yes, quite so. But then, copyright infringement is not a crime when it is 'done between friends'. It becomes a crime at around the value of £1500, if I remember correctly.

Actually, you just have to infringe copyright "in the course of business" or "otherwise than in the course of a business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright" [legislation.gov.uk] if you're dealing with infringement by communicating the work to the public (i.e. filesharing - see s107(2A)).

However, linking to infringing content is NOT copyright infringement. So even though this guy helped a lot of people infringe copyright, he didn't actively copy the content himself, which means he's not guilty of that crime. And there is no crime of contributory copyright infringement. So they can't do him on that.

Actually... it might be. It depends on what counts as "communication to the public." In the TVShack case, Richard O'Dwyer is being extradited on the basis that what he did amounted to criminal copyright infringement, for running a linking site; the High Court will be ruling on that at some point soon. Also the Supreme Court may (hopefully) sort out the whole "linking or embedding is illegal" thing in another appeal early next year (the original case held that merely receiving an email or visiting a website was enough to be illegal).

But yes, it's a very silly situation. Conspiracy to Defraud is a very bad law.

Re:Conspiracy to defraud (1)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990813)

Actually, you just have to infringe copyright "in the course of business" or "otherwise than in the course of a business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright" [legislation.gov.uk] if you're dealing with infringement by communicating the work to the public (i.e. filesharing - see s107(2A)).

... It depends on what counts as "communication to the public."

Reading that law, it seems clear to me that that 'communicating to the public' is being used to describe the act of reproduction without license (the infringement itself, to be a little circular about it), but not the act of directing another party to an external thing which infringes, even if you willfully intend for copyright to be infringed as a result.

I imagine the word communicating is used as a catchall for whichever form of transmission is used to reproduce or recreate the work without license, but it is NOT about describing to another party *how* to reproduce the work, or *where* it might unlawfully be reproduced, no matter how specifically you describe such a thing. Otherwise you would fall foul of that law for discussing how to copy a novel with a typewriter, for example. Or for performing factual reporting on the site in the first place. (If linking to crimes is a crime, then linking to linking to crimes must also be a crime, after all.)

By the Kevin Bacon principle, if linking to infringing content is a crime, then all websites are guilty before the 6th degree of separation.

Re:Conspiracy to defraud (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990329)

Except he didn't share other peoples content. That was the whole point of the post you replied to. It helps to read these things before you comment.

Hmmm (1)

rcuhljr (1132713) | more than 2 years ago | (#40988883)

I was really hoping for more useful information at the "Largely Hopeless" hyperlink, I should have examined the url first.

So much for the Magna Carta . . . (3, Interesting)

mmell (832646) | more than 2 years ago | (#40988929)

Now you Brits know how we Americans feel when we wipe with our Constitution. Based on my read of BBC's coverage, looks like this guy was guilty until proven innocent.

Re:So much for the Magna Carta . . . (1)

pointyhat (2649443) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989427)

The Magna Carta has been pretty useless for at least a century. Unfortunately, unlike some software licenses, there are ways to amend it to insignificance which they have taken to the extreme.

Time will come where the rulers when society will descend into the ruling class and the rest. A small proportion of "the rest" will be responsible for fixing the above mistake.

Re:So much for the Magna Carta . . . (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989771)

The UK Parliament over the last 300 years has steadily-but-surely turned the Magna Carta into just a piece of paper. Out of the whole document there is only one sentence that is still active. All the other laws of the MC have been nullified (via simple majority vote).

Perhaps your ancestors should have made clear that the Carta was the supreme law of the land, and can not be nullified by lesser laws, as my ancestors did in 1786 with the Constitution. Anything our "parliament" passes has zero weight if it goes contrary to the constitutional law. Oh well.

Re:So much for the Magna Carta . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989993)

Sorry which country are you living in?

Re:So much for the Magna Carta . . . (2)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990027)

The constitution of the UK is based on political acceptability due to the doctrine of Parlimentary sovereignty and the widespread use of convention within the apparatus of government. There are of course drawbacks in this system, but many people overlook the benefits - legislation cannot be challenged in court for constitutionality, resulting in a legislative program which can push changes through as long as the government has the mandate politically. Think of the issues that Obama faced *after* passing the health care reforms.

Re:So much for the Magna Carta . . . (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990109)

And rightfully so, the Constitution was specific about what is the responsibility of the Federal government. Anything else was the responsibility of the state governments. If we as a nation truly want the Federal government to take over healthcare it should be going through the amendment process. Half the nation isn't interested in that though, so it's just easier to push it through with bribes/promises to congressman and then have the Supreme Court violate their oath.

Re:So much for the Magna Carta . . . (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990663)

But it is wrong to say that the constitution prohibits the federal government from "taking over" (in your words) healthcare. Remember Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government already has it's fingers in the heathcare pie? The constitutional consideration was whether the federal government can fine you for failing to take out health insurance. Is this even a constitutional matter? Most people would say not. Americans have been paying federal taxes and fines for quite a while now and it is well within the constitution. Instead of the courts existing as a check and balance against the legislature and executive, it has turned into another political tool to further certain partisan interests.

So, really, you have to give it up to the British parliamentary system sometimes for the practical approach in that the only real and effective check against the government is the people.

Merely linking? (5, Insightful)

Havenwar (867124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40988945)

While I'm a rather happy pirate and pirate supporter, I don't think you can quite count it as "merely linking" if you actively source pirated material to link to. The flimsy excuse the pirate bay has for instance is that it's "just an indexing site" and can just as happily be used for legal material... when you are going out and looking for pirated stuff to link to, "merely" leaves the table.

Also I might just be tired, but the summary makes it seem like he got four years out of a maximum of two possible - that's not the case. He got 4 years out of a maximum of TEN possible according to the articles I've seen about it.

And now I feel all dirty for having to take the wrong side in this argument. I wish people would understand that if we stopped using hyperbole and chest thumping tactics we'd win on default in the eyes of the public. With articles like this, misrepresenting facts, twisting words, transparent agendas... That's as low and useless as the *AA tactics we oppose.

I need a shower, proceed with the discussion without me.

Re:Merely linking? (4, Interesting)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989077)

Ten years for running a site that linked largely older content that wasn't on TV or offered any where on line. Ya The guy deserves years in a federal pound you in the ass prison.

The problem is this guy should of ran the site under the guise of a corporation, JPmorgan only got fiend like 4 million dollars after making 21 million on a price fixing scheme in New York. No one went to jail and they got to keep a cool 17 million dollars that they stole from the people of New York.

Re:Merely linking? (2)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989209)

The problem is this guy should of ran the site under the guise of a corporation,.

Actually he did run the site as a Limited Company (equivalent of a Corporation in the UK) so that idea didn't carry much water

Re:Merely linking? (3, Insightful)

xaxa (988988) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989447)

Ya The guy deserves years in a federal pound you in the ass prison.

Please not that on this side of the Atlantic, anal rape is not seen as an appropriate punishment.

Re:Merely linking? (1)

letherial (1302031) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989599)

Well you just need some private prisons is all; tune will change with money rolling around......it always does.

Re:Merely linking? (1)

cupantae (1304123) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989731)

Stealing from the plebs doesn't matter. This guy is (possibly) reducing the profits of copyright holders, which is evidently far more serious.

Re:Merely linking? (2)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990261)

He deliberately sought out and "quality checked" pirated material, and then made large sums of money off advertising on his site. In other words he made serious bank from a professional piracy operation - abusing other peoples work for personal profit.

I don't have any sympathy for this guy. It's good that he got sent down. The only WTF in this case, as far as I can see, is that there's no law on the books directly for that kind of thing. Probably there should be.

Re:Merely linking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989121)

If he'd been convicted of direct copyright infringement (posting those links himself) then the maximum sentence would have been 2 years.

Re:Merely linking? (4, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989131)

I don't think you can quite count it as "merely linking" if you actively source pirated material to link to.

Welcome to the intersection of copyright as the default state of any creative work, and the internet.

Everything on the internet has a copyright on it, and you do not (usually) have permission from the copyright holder to link to it.

Yes, we can all quibble over this as an egregious example, but it sets a really bad precedent that moves us solidly back in the direction of "producers" and "consumers", rather than "participants".

Re:Merely linking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990023)

Precisely - what is to happen to those who link to news articles that are protected under copyright?

Re:Merely linking? (1)

_8553454222834292266 (2576047) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990343)

You don't need permission to link to something.

Re:Merely linking? (1)

Grumbleduke (789126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990571)

Some UK lawyers, judges and academics disagree. Apparently linking is argued to count as "communicating to the public" or something. Hopefully this will be fixed in either the O'Dwyer extradition appeal, or an upcoming Supreme Court case. But for now there's enough doubt that the judge in this case was able to tell the jury that running the site was definitely illegal (which may be grounds for an appeal).

Re:Merely linking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989441)

He the links were user supplied, and included any source. He also had agreements with several networks in the works, who pulled out when the industry turned on him.

Re:Merely linking? (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989513)

>>>While I'm a rather happy pirate and pirate supporter, I don't think you can quite count it as "merely linking" if you actively source pirated material to link to.

So what's next?
I'll be arrested for "conspiracy to hate" because I link to KKK.com? Arrested for "conspiracy to aid & abet" because I link to iran.gov? Arrested for "conspiracy to demean the reputation of the U.S. Congress" because I link to alexjones.com?

Free speech means free speech in ALL things, even if we don't like what the idiot on the other end has to say. Linking is not a crime. It is simply speech saying, "Here's where those guys are located." No different than pointing on a map and saying Here's the KKK headquarters.

If piratebay, the KKK, or alexjones are committing crimes then THEY are the ones who should be arrested, not the people who simply point to an address. Fucking bastard politicians will soon take-away all right of expression, and leave us chained..... afraid to say or write anything.

Re:Merely linking? (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990103)

As far as I'm aware, nowhere in the world actually has an absolute right to free speech codified in law. In fact, that would be pretty crazy, because speech is powerful and absolute protection of free speech would give people the power to do immense damage to other people without penalty.

Your strawman arguments are not the same as what this guy did. He was quite blatantly and knowingly running a system to help other people break the law. Why would you think any reasonable legal system should condone such behaviour?

There are certainly valid concerns today about limiting speech inappropriately, but defending people like this is a distraction from those concerns, and ultimately unhelpful. People do need to take responsibility for their own behaviour if we're going to maintain a civilised society.

Re:Merely linking? (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990891)

As far as I'm aware, nowhere in the world actually has an absolute right to free speech codified in law.

I'm amazed that you somehow managed to skip the U.S.A. in your research:

Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; ....

There you have it, an absolute right to free speech in perfectly plain English. Any law which imposes a fine or punishment, or any other penalty, as a response to any speech on any subject whatsoever is unconstitutional.

That does not eliminate all potential fallout, of course. The First Amendment does not force any private individual to like you, or to associate with you; you can expect social ostracism and other extra-legal consequences should you choose to voice certain opinions publicly. If you declare an intent to take violent action against someone, they have the right to respond, preemptively if necessary, to that action—not the speech. Any contract founded on fraud is void, not as punishment for false speech but because it lacks "meeting of the minds". Property and/or services obtained through a fraudulent contract can be considered deliberately and maliciously stolen since, as the instigator of the fraud, you knew that the contract was void from the start and took possession of the property and/or accepted the services anyway.

All the legitimate damages attributed to speech are actually caused by other actions which, unlike speech, are capable of violating another person's rights of self-ownership. Such damages can be countered without abridging the freedom of speech. Your target is misplaced.

Re:Merely linking? (1, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989679)

>>>With articles like this, misrepresenting facts, twisting words, transparent agendas... That's as low and useless as the *AA tactics we oppose.

I see nothing wrong with adopting the tactics of the enemy. We didn't beat the Nazis and the Military Oligarchy of Japan by politely targeting factories & saying, "Please surrender. We'll give you tea and cookies." No. We adopted the enemy's tactics of blitzkrieg and dive-bombing. We converted explosive bombs to incendiary bombs and struck hard. We turned portions of Tokyo and Dresden into fiery infernos that were so hot, all the oxygen was sucked from the air and people died of asphyiation.

So if the MAFIAA is going to send us letters demanding $5000 or else be drug into court for million-dollar lawsuits, plus distort the record that people who download a song are akin to drug dealers (see the TV ads), then I see nothing wrong with using equal tactics against them. Those aren't people that work at the RIAA or MPAA? They are filty vermin that steal your money, rape your daughters, and eat imported dogs from China for supper. Death to the RIAA and MPAA. Restore freedom to our artists to earn a fair living again.

Re:Merely linking? (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989865)

Well, its my opinion that they should be the first ones to meet Dr. Guillotine when the revolution happens.

Re:Merely linking? (3, Interesting)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989973)

Your tact is still wrong. You have to go on offense. Instead of discussing this people should instead be discussing why Hollywood Accounting is not being aggressively dealt with. Directors, Actors, Musicians, ... losses from Hollywood Accounting are huge and US taxpayers are losing big as well.

Re:Merely linking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990325)

So your entire argument is admitting you are also guilty of "facilitating copyright infringement"

My post here, it is copyrighted. I explicitly deny you the right to reproduce it. I also explicitly deny you the right to link to it.

Because you have no authorization under copyright to link to or distribute my post, you are pirating my copyrighted work.

Looking at your own post, at the bottom I see a link to my post, labeled "6 replies".
Since you are fully aware you have no rights to link to my post, you must have sought out this pirated material to link to. Plus you just admitted to the crime, on top of being fully supportive of the maximum 10 year prison sentence for doing so.

You should consider yourself extremely lucky I am not pressing formal charges, robbing you of four years of your life, despite the fact you openly admit that people such as yourself deserve the full 10 years of prison time for the crime you just committed and admitted to.

Re:Merely linking? (4, Informative)

Grumbleduke (789126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990673)

As the author of the summary, perhaps I should clarify.

With regard to "merely linking", he was convicted of conspiracy to defraud for "facilitating copyright infringement" through running a website. The website didn't host any videos, but merely linked to them. The "merely" is applied to distinguish linking from hosting, or sharing directly (there have been a few successful prosecutions in the UK for people actually sharing stuff). This distinction is important because there's a lot of doubt in the UK (and elsewhere) as to whether or not "linking" is actually copyright infringement.

Also I might just be tired, but the summary makes it seem like he got four years out of a maximum of two possible - that's not the case. He got 4 years out of a maximum of TEN possible according to the articles I've seen about it.

The point I was trying to make here (and I note that what I wrote was edited, not sure what I actually wrote, but I wouldn't have spelt "offence" with an s in that context) was that had he actually been charged with criminal copyright infringement, he would have faced a maximum of 2 years in prison. But because FACT/the MPAA went with the broader, but highly controversial (to the extent that the Law Commission recommended it be repealed years ago, and there are strict restrictions on when public prosecutions for it can be brought - this was a private prosecution) offence of "conspiracy to defraud", which criminalises a "dishonest agreement" to do something that may not itself be unlawful or cause any harm. But yes, that offence does have a maximum sentence of 10 years.

FACT! (0)

dstyle5 (702493) | more than 2 years ago | (#40988965)

Beginning your sentence with a fully capitalized FACT ensures that what follows is indeed a true, unbiased fact.

Re:FACT! (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989241)

Don't be silly! It is clearly an acronym!

It stands for:

Fraternal
Association
(Of)
Copyright
Trolls

C'mon, can't you get your FACTS straight?

(Note for the humor deprived: this is a joke post.)

Re:FACT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989259)

Woooooooooosh. And that's not the sound of you missing the joke, no that's the sound of you being so quick to make one that you totally missed that FACT is the name of the organization.

Good luck in life, seems like you're going to need it.

Re:FACT! (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989373)

Hope my sarcasm detector is just broken. FACT is the name of an organization.

Re:FACT! (3, Informative)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989799)

FACT: [wikipedia.org] you are a dumbass.

Half of 4 is 2? (0)

oic0 (1864384) | more than 2 years ago | (#40988985)

I guess he will be paroled in half that time, or 8 years.

Re:Half of 4 is 2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989801)

Yes. Half of 4 is 2.

You know, unless you get that prison population up (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#40988987)

You won't have anybody to change your bedpans in ten or twenty years. Then what? Well, I guess there's always immigration to fill in, and you get more people to lock up and make work for free.

The fraud didn't matter. That's a part of everyday business amongst the big boys. No, the problem here was he picked the wrong target.

The "strong message": (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989001)

Move your servers to a country ending in -stan that has real problems, where judges kick you out of their courtrooms for coming up with stuff like that.

Re:The "strong message": (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989193)

i dont know why, but you are the only person who makes sense in this thread. here, have an internet for the day!

Re:The "strong message": (1)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990073)

Move your servers to a country ending in -stan that has real problems, where judges kick you out of their courtrooms for coming up with stuff like that.

That works fine while you're serving to people in X-stan. Once you start serving globally, and once you're on the radar, I think you'll find that the over-reaching arm of the law will be quite long enough.

If you're in a country which is suitably civilized, you'll be extradited. See Kim DotCom. If it's not suitably civilized, I'd imagine worse things happen.

LOL butch gonna get raped in prison (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989027)

But he was just facilitating people to find public domain movies and Linux ISOs!

Jail Time for Civil Offenses? (4, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989051)

So, I suppose this means giving people jail time for minor civil infractions (while letting major crimes, such as international larceny [thedailybeast.com] and funding terrorism, [businessinsider.com] go unpunished) is the new normal?

Looks like Vickerman's real crime was not being wealthy enough to buy his way out of trouble...



This world, she is fucked...

Re:Jail Time for Civil Offenses? (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989151)

He wasn't tried for a civil offense. You must be out of the loop since the TRIPS agreement maintained by WIPO introduced crimInal liability for copyright offenses years ago.

Re:Jail Time for Civil Offenses? (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989587)

He wasn't tried for a civil offense. You must be out of the loop since the TRIPS agreement maintained by WIPO introduced crimInal liability for copyright offenses years ago.

Not at all, I just flat-out will not accept the re-assignment of a civil infraction into a criminal one, just because some corporate assholes paid off a couple politicians.

Society should not allow people to be jailed and have their livelihoods stolen over goddamn entertainment media. It's sick, and I for one refuse to so much as acknowledge the idea.

Re:Jail Time for Civil Offenses? (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989725)

Except this isn't re-assignment of anything. People have been arrested and charged with criminal offenses for bootlegging entertainment media for decades. It has never been strictly a civil issue. This is just a falsity perpetuated by the ignorant.

Re:Jail Time for Civil Offenses? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989903)

Except Vickerman himself didn't actually bootleg anything, right? He just ran an aggregation website, and some people who aren't him may or may not have placed bootlegged content on the site. It's like putting the flea market owner in jail, because someone who rented a booth from him was selling drugs without his knowledge or permission.

In that case, I suppose you're right - it's not reassignment of the infraction, but rather a reworking of what constitutes an infraction: apparently, intent is no longer an important factor in determining judgement (unless it's a politician or CEO on trial, in which case intent is everything).

Re:Jail Time for Civil Offenses? (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989957)

It's like putting the flea market owner in jail, because someone who rented a booth from him was selling drugs without his knowledge or permission.

Except this guy was completely aware of what was going on. So, it's really nothing like your analogy and its not even assured that the person in your analogy wouldn't be held liable.

Re:Jail Time for Civil Offenses? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990247)

Yea, I just went against the grain and RTFA'd, you're right - asshole was not just aggregating, he was knowingly encouraging illegal behavior, in which case, he got what he had coming.

I still think it's stupid and backwards to put regular folks in prison for non-violent offenses, especially considering what we lowly surfs do is peanuts compared to the crimes of the ruling class.

Re:Jail Time for Civil Offenses? (2)

Grumbleduke (789126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990697)

Except he wasn't charged with copyright infringement. He was charged with conspiracy to defraud, which covers a dishonest agreement to do something that might cause someone a loss (or not to make a gain, or injure a property right they have), even though the actual something may not itself be illegal (either criminally, or under civil law).

If he had been charged with copyright infringement, there's a good chance he would have been found not guilty (as copyright may not cover linking etc.), and if not, would have faced at most 2 years in prison, not 10. This is a case of the lobby groups saying "you gave us criminal copyright laws, but they're too hard to prosecute and too soft on evil pirates, so we're going to (ab)use other laws instead".

Normally..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989141)

"On the street", a person that knows where illegal activity is going on is called an informant and cops tend to like them.

In this case they're prosecuting the guy that knows where illegal activity is going on because he has the links. The first step to thought crimes.

Why don't the cops just follow his links and go after the real criminals? Why toss Huggy Bear in jail?

Re:Normally..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989331)

Because, if you read up on it, he actively went to those criminals and told them what he wanted them to post, and encouraged people to post illegal materials specifically so he could link to it. I.E. he didn't just facilitate linking, he specifically encouraged and facilitated linking to pirated material. Not accidentally, intentionally.

What the hell? (2)

pointyhat (2649443) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989157)

So when are youtube's owning stake in the UK being locked up for this one then?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBn4RMTU9SU (the crow - full movie)

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989395)

Now you've done it, Timothy will be in jail and we won't get our dupes!

Corruption (0, Troll)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989167)

Corrupt government officials should be hung from lightposts. The prosecutors and those who passed this sentence should both face the hangman's noose for this perversion.

Re:Corruption (1)

Grumbleduke (789126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990719)

It was a private prosecution, brought by FACT and the MPAA iirc. The public prosecutors who were involved in this case (back when they arrested the guy on FACT's request back in 2007ish) dropped the case in 2008.

However, the judge may have gone a bit too far in both his directions to the jury and sentencing. Hopefully an appeals court will sort that out.

The last is a newspaper. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989187)

It's not illegal to say, "You can get crack at that house over there for $20.", unless you are a paid employee of the crack house, of course.

What about a guy standing on the corner who's saying the exact same thing but is holding a sign with McDonald's advertising, which he is being paid for?

What if it's the same guy, but he says, "C'mere. I have info -- pay me for it and I'll tell you."

Prison? For copying a file? PRISON? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989275)

Brits should just abandon their government and go into full revolt at this point. Nothing I read about their legal system remotely sounds like justice.

Really, Prison? For copying files? Prison? No one on this planet can prove that they were deprived of life, liberty or property from what this guy did... and he gets prison. Insanity.

Re:Prison? For copying a file? PRISON? (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989939)

Why do you think we tossed the King's men out of our country in the first place, and wrote those words "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as well?

EVIL (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989287)

This is evil. This is on the level of evil that only a powerful system can cause. This is the same type of evil that puts people to jail for possessing plants or in fact possessing anything, and in fact this is exactly that kind of a situation - possession.

This is the kind of evil that people gloss over and don't think twice about, it's about 'them', not about 'you', right?

Copyrights and patents shouldn't even exist as government laws, just like laws about narcotics, prostitution laws, none of this should be authorised to the government control.

Re:EVIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990315)

Aye, When is it going to stop? How? I wish to fuck we could all go into overload right now and start the cleansing... get rid of these scumbags and live in peace for 1000 years.

I actually live right near the FACT headquarters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989377)

The area is dog shit city. I eternally damn them to fall in it face first.

Bad summary (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989453)

That last link in the summary purports to link to an article explaining why the legal online film market is hopeless. All it links to is a tweet saying that the legal online film market is hopeless, and in turn links to the BBC report about this conviction. There is no evidence presented to back up the claim that the legal online film market is "hopeless", whatever that means.

If anyone has a link to a better article backing up this claim, I'm all ears.

Two charges (1)

GigaBurglar (2465952) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989471)

He got four years probably because he was convicted of both charges. He will most likely will get 2 years with good behaviour. More to the point - there's a new sheriff in town.

Chilling Miscariage of Justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40989853)

They have found a way to convict people who haven't committed any provable crime. If it was found guilty on Copyright Infringment, it would be one thing, (police and prosecutors typically tack on as many offenses as they can), but to NOT be convicted of Copyright Infringment and still be sent to prison is absolutely insane.

They can effectively charge anyone who has ever downloaded anything from the internet.

Steve Wozniak on Internet Freedom (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989959)

link [rt.com]

"[W]hat Kim Dotcom ran is just a service that's like a post office. He was the post office it was being mailed to,"

"Why do you shut down the post office thinking that's where the problem is? It's not,"

This has caused me to now quit renting video. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990007)

I will never rent again and I will not renew my HBO movie channels and that is the fact jack fuckem.

Stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990153)

Lawyers opened the law database, pressed Ctrl+F and typed in "piracy". The only result was a chapter on "conspiracy to defraud". Close enough, let's sue!

UK is? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990229)

U$A little bitch.

Facilitating Infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990259)

Wouldn't this extend to include IDK, Microsoft, HP, Dell, Huewai, and anyone else that creates OSs, Systems, network cards. Oh the ISPs should be held accountable too, they provide access. This is rediculous.

Dear FACT (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990589)

I don't live in a corporatist police state and I am serving just a shitload of torrents right now in addition to my large sneakernet operation and free offerings of pirate education. Does that make you mad? Come get me, fuckers.

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