A website owner who ran one of the world’s largest pirate movie sites from a house on Tyneside has been told he is going to jail.
Anton Vickerman set up surfthechannel, attracting more than 400,000 visitors per day and generating advertising revenues of at least £35,000 per month. At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday the 38-year-old, from Walkergate in Newcastle, was found guilty of two charges of conspiracy to defraud.
His conviction is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom for a website owner who held an index which linked users to illegal movies on another site, rather than holding the movies itself.
Judge John Evans adjourned sentence until next month, but ordered Vickerman to hand over his passport before he was allowed conditional bail. The judge warned him: “As a result of the jury’s finding, you are now in a serious position and a custodial sentence, having regard to the nature of these offences, is, I am afraid, inevitable.”
His website allowed users to search for blockbuster movies that were not yet on general release along with thousands of other films.
Rather than holding a library of films Vickerman’s website was simply an index which allowed users to clink on a link to the movie they wanted. They were then directed to a database in China where the illegally recorded movies were stored.