Man Sentenced in British Piracy Case Attacks Copyright Group

Fact logo - H 2012

Anton Vickerman, the first U.K. citizen sentenced to prison for linking to pirated content, criticizes the Federation Against Copyright Theft, which is financed by the film industry.


LONDON - The British man sentenced earlier this week to four years in prison for running web site, which linked to pirated films and TV shows, has attacked the methods of the U.K. film industry-supported anti-piracy group that prosecuted him.

The man, Anton Vickerman, became the first British person to get a prison sentence for providing online links to pirated content.

The Guardian reported that Vickerman, who is expected to appeal, has lashed out at the evidence gathering techniques of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact), which is financed by the film industry. In an 18,000-word blog post, the 38-year-old claimed that Fact at first wrongly complained to police that he was criminally distributing DVDs from home. That led to a search warrant the prosecutors used to seize computers at his house in 2008, he argued.

"If you were looking for an example of British justice in all its shining glory then you weren't going to find it here," the Guardian quoted Vickerman as saying on his blog. Surfthechannel "did not, nor has it ever" streamed content itself, he added.

The paper said evidence was also gathered at a meeting that saw an undercover Fact agent posing as an investor in Vickerman's web site.

Vickerman also suggested that the "chain of evidence" of data collection from his computer to the material presented in court was not complete and that a secret hearing with an unidentified witness further turned the judge in his case against him.

"It became clear to me even at this stage that I was not going to receive a fair trial," he wrote in his blog post, the Guardiansaid.

Fact declined to comment on Vickerman's claims. "He is a convicted criminal, though he's entitled to say what he wants," a spokesman told the Guardian. "But it should be remembered that this case has been through an eight-week criminal trial with a verdict decided by a jury."