File-sharing site owner's leak adds to jail sentence

22 Nov 2012
court

Surfthechannel.com owner's leaked documents cost him an extra month in jail for contempt of court

A file-sharing site owner jailed for four years has had a month added to his sentence for leaking details the prosecution.

Anton Vickerman ran a website called Surfthechannel.com, which didn't host content, but linked to places to download television programmes.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) investigated Vickerman, bringing him to court with a private prosecution.

In August, a judge jailed Vickerman for four years after finding him guilty of "conspiracy to defraud".

Before Vickerman was sentenced, he posted an 18,000-word essay online, detailing FACT's investigation and releasing a set of court documents tracing the path of the long-running case - including a letter from the Crown Prosecution Service deciding not to take the case further in 2008, saying it remained legally "uncertain" whether linking actually infringed copyright.

While posting that document helped Vickerman win headlines on his case - as well as an in-depth look at the issue in PC Pro issue 217 - it cost him another month of liberty.

According to a statement from FACT, Vickerman "pleaded guilty yesterday to contempt of court at Newcastle Crown Court".

"Vickerman published on the internet restricted court documents from the original trial," it noted. "An extra month was added to his sentence."

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