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Surfthechannel founder gets four years prison time for piracy

After making nearly $55,000 per month with Surfthechannel, Anton Vickerman is convicted of two counts of conspiracy to facilitate copyright infringement.

In the continuing fight against copyright infringement, U.K. authorities sentenced the owner of to four years in prison today.

Anton Vickerman, 38, who founded Surfthechannel -- a Web site that offered users links to streaming pirated material -- was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to facilitate copyright infringement, according to the Guardian. The sentencing came after an eight-week trial in June.

The way Surfthechannel worked was it let users search for movies or TV shows and then provided them with a list of links to both legal and pirated material. Essentially, the site acted like a middleman that pointed users in the direction of where they could find copyrighted material for free. This is different from sites like the Pirate Bay or Megaupload, which actually hosted the pirated material.

According to the Guardian, Vickerman founded Surfthechannel in 2007 and was eventually earning nearly $55,000 per month. The site had roughly 400,000 users per day.

"This case conclusively shows that running a website that deliberately sets out to direct users to illegal copies of films and TV shows will result in a criminal conviction and a long jail sentence," Kieron Sharp, director general of the English anti-piracy lobby group Federation Against Copyright Theft, told the Guardian.

Sharp also pointed out that Surfthechannel was different from search engines like Google or Bing, because these sites weren't "created specifically to make money from criminal activity."

U.S. groups, actors, and musicians have been rallying to get Google to stop showing pirated links in its searches. In May, the search giant said that it acknowledges piracy and copyright infringement are growing exponentially and it complies with 1.2 million URL removal requests per month.