Anton Vickerman, from Gateshead, had designed the service’s pages, hiring others to source material and carry out other back-end functions.
The 38-year-old was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud in June for “facilitating” copyright infringement.
Surfthechannel.com had acted as an index of professionally made online videos – both legal and illegal – encouraging its users to send in new links and check that they worked.
However, it did not host the video files itself, but instead pointed visitors to other sites including Megavideo and China’s Tudou.
The Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) said that at its height in 2009 the site attracted more than 400,000 visitors a day, generating more than £35,000 in advertising revenue a month.
The maximum sentence that could have been given at Newcastle Crown Court would have been 10 years.
Mr Vickerman ran the site through a limited company, called Scopelight, which sent earnings to a bank account in Latvia.