My name is Anton Vickerman and I am the proud owner of the now dead video search engine SurfTheChannel.com (STC). By the time you read this I will be starting my new life behind bars after receiving what is expected to be a “loony sentence” from Judge John Evans of Newcastle Crown Court for running my site from 2007 to 2012.
I was convicted of “Conspiracy to defraud the movie industry through the facilitation of copyright infringement” on June 24 2012 after an eight week trial. A trial that was brought not by the UK state prosecutor, the Crown Prosecution Service, but by a private prosecutor, the Federation Against Copyright Theft Limited. For those that are unaware FACT Ltd is the UK regional office of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the same organization that is behind the attempted extradition of Richard O´Dwyer who based his own website TVShack on STC. As will become clear as you read this piece I consider FACT Ltd and the MPAA to be dangerous vigilante organizations that have no place in prosecuting UK citizens never mind conducting up to fifteen illegal surveillance operations every month on those same citizens. FACT Ltd are a private limited company staffed almost entirely by former police and trading standards officers most of which FACT Ltd have identified as willing to go “that extra mile” in their fight against “copyright thieves.” In other words there is a reason that FACT Ltd employs the individuals they do (be that investigators, lawyers or executive officers) – because they are willing to cheat, lie and break the law for their employer. Essentially FACT Ltd is the MPAA´s private police force operating within the UK. But more of that later.
“If what he was doing was legal, why did he go to such lengths to hide his identity and location? Why not just operate as a legitimate business in the UK? Why did he set the site up anonymously, and make it so hard to find him?” – Surfthechannel