Anonymous Courtroom Notes Raise Serious Questions About SurfTheChannel Conviction

from the a-nod,-a-wink-and-a-false-beard dept

Update: The blog has been taken down, but a Google cache remains.

We just wrote about the extremely troubling ruling in the UK that has left Anton Vickerman, the operator of the TV linking website SurfTheChannel, facing up to ten years in jail. The charge is the rather ambiguous “conspiracy to defraud”, which is not surprising, because it’s still not clear what STC did that was actually illegal—it certainly wasn’t copyright infringement, since similar sites in the UK have been found to be non-infringing in the past. These websites don’t host any pirated content, they only index links to videos on other sites—and there’s no evidence that their operators assisted in the uploading of that third-party content. At worst, it can be argued that they were somehow implicitly encouraging their users to upload infringing content and submit the links, which is why “conspiracy to defraud” is just about the only charge that could stick. The UK has a notoriously low bar for conspiracy charges, which can be used to go after people who have gotten on someone’s nerves without really breaking any laws, and this has been the subject of controversy for some time.

But, even when it comes to the conspiracy charge, there are some serious questions that need to be answered—especially after a look at this collection of notes from the trial posted by an anonymous blogger. I’m taking this information with a grain of salt, because the source is unidentified, and it also can’t be ignored that the notes are one-sided and focus on flaws in the prosecution’s case—so there may well be another significant side to the story. But there is also enough specific information about the case that it seems unlikely that the notes are fake, and some of the things that happened look very bad no matter what other evidence was presented.

First, there are several things the judge did that are concerning:

  • Judge leaves jury little choice after directing as a matter of law that knowingly linking to infringing content is illegal despite no such offence in the UK;
  • Judge ignores SportsRadar High Court judgement that states if an infringement takes place it takes place in the country the server is based (linking to infringing content legal in Spain where SurfTheChannel was based);
  • Judge states “if I have got the law wrong then a higher court than this one will sort it out”;

What the entertainment industry has wanted all along is for linking to content to simply be illegal, so they twist around interpretations of various laws to try to make it so. From the sound of it, the judge let that happen to some degree, despite precedent to the contrary. The notes then go on to detail the activities of FACT, the Hollywood-backed private group that independently investigated Vickerman (without police knowledge) then helped set up the raid on his offices. Their investigation included posing as potential home buyers to gain access to his house, and telling service providers (like his ISP) that he was selling counterfeit DVDs to get them to share information about him. There was even a bizarre dispute about whether or not Vickerman was wearing a false beard at some point, but the details are unclear, and the FACT agent claimed in court to have lost the log book about the incident. FACT also admitted that it conducts about 15 of these surveillance operations a month. Other statements made by FACT reveal that it was extremely sloppy in its evidence gathering methods, and that it had a clear goal of shutting down STC regardless of legal authority:

  • FACT Ltd staff admit to attending raid on Vickerman’s address with USB stick that contains a replacement home page to be placed on SurfTheChannel website that states “This website is under investigation” despite having no legal authority to do so and in contravention of the Computer Misuse Act 1990;
  • FACT Ltd contractor Ben Clelland admits to copying all case evidence from Vickerman’s computer to a USB drive, putting USB drive in pocket and leaving house without alerting Police that this evidence existed or bagging and tagging it. All forensic evidence in case emanates from this USB drive.
  • FACT Ltd contractor Ben Clelland admits to “making a mistake” by not attaching a write blocker to his examination computer before examining USB drive data. All file creation dates on evidence are changed.

I don’t know the details of UK procedure, but it sounds like there should be serious questions about the admissibility of that evidence. The other component of FACT’s case was their star witness, Brendan DeBeasi, who had been involved with STC in the past and admitted offering to bring the site “to its knees” for the highest bidder. DeBeasi faces charges in the U.S., and testified in exchange for immunity and more:

  • DeBeasi says he is not tailoring his evidence to help FACT despite admitting that his immunity deal in the US is dependent on him “performing well” in the Vickerman prosecution;
  • DeBeasi admits MPAA offered him a job not long after he agreed to cooperate in prosecution of Vickermans;

A representative of the MPAA also testified, revealing that he posed as a potential STC investor to gain access to Vickerman. Then, some interesting facts about the MPAA’s broader strategy were revealed. It turns out that STC had commercial deals with some networks, including A&E and Discovery, but those partners withdrew before the charges were brought—allegedly under targeted pressure from the MPAA:

  • Defence accuses the MPAA of arranging commercially damaging news stories containing false information about STC in an attempt to isolate it as a “piracy site” so that its commercial partnerships with TV networks such as Discovery Channel, A&E Television Networks and others are destroyed;
  • [MPAA representative] Pascal Hetzscholdt admits that senior MPAA personnel including John Malcolm contacted NBCUniversal to pressure them into terminating A&E Television Networks partnership agreement with SurfTheChannel;

The notes also highlight several serious errors on behalf of FACT’s lawyer throughout the trial. Most notably, the prosecution repeatedly presented digital forensic evidence that was clearly flawed and in some cases seemingly presented in a very selective way to paint a picture of guilt. Though FACT did back down on some of these instances, it casts a lot of doubt on their approach to building a case:

  • [FACT Prosecutor David] Groome opened case by saying that the Chinese websites linked to by STC are “run by Chinese Gangsters”, “obviously and completely illegal” and “owned by thugs” amongst other things. Anton Vickerman accuses him of misleading the jury when he presents evidence that the sites referred to (Youku & Tudou) are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and that another ( is funded by the Venture Capital arm of FACT Director Walt Disney Studios. Vickerman also presents evidence that many of FACT’s directors have partnership deals with these so called “Chinese Gangsters”;
  • Groome tells jury that there were many many movie files found on Vickerman’s computers and that he was uploading them to third party websites before linking to them from STC. This is again proven false when the defence shows that there is only 1 movie file found on any of Vickerman’s computers and the other handful of video files are for TV shows all of which were downloaded for personal use. The defence also shows that there is not one shred of evidence that any uploading took place from Vickerman’s computers despite 3 separate teams of forensic investigators inspecting the computers;
  • Groome tells jury that Vickerman saved specific forum posts and private messages to his computer that talk about uploading and other controversial topics. Vickerman accuses Groome of again misleading the jury by showing that the posts they have exhibited are extracted from a backup of the forum which contained 91,000 posts which he had only seen a tiny amount when browsing the forum from day to day. Groome tells the jury that a spread sheet produced by the prosecution proves that links to movies were added to the STC site by Vickerman from his computer. When Vickerman says that is not true Groome tells him that he is therefore calling FACT witness Andrew Smith a liar. Vickerman then points out that the spread sheet is an extract created by Smith of a backup from the STC database that shows list of links to movies added to the STC database by those users. Not Vickerman adding the links from his computer. Groome eventually agrees.
  • Groome ambushes Vickerman with a printout of a forum post and accuses him of running a server that staff uploaded material to which was then streamed to STC’s users. Vickerman flatly denies this and explains that he is getting confused and that STC used a complicated system for hiding its links from its rivals. The next day Vickerman accuses Groome of misleading the jury again by printing out only the first page of the forum post when the third page actually shows that the forum thread is regarding the link hiding system not the hosting/streaming of content by STC.

Vickerman himself raised some damning points as well, including something that sounds a lot more like a genuine “conspiracy”—evidence of infringing links being added to the site by anti-piracy groups themselves:

  • Vickerman explains that SurfTheChannel’s then number one rival,, has commercial partnerships with every one of FACT’s directors despite having the exact same links that FACT is using as evidence of illegality in this case;
  • Vickerman provides unchallenged evidence that Anti-Piracy companies, in particular Aiplex Software, are responsible for automated adding of around a million links to the STC website.

(Interestingly,—once a well-known pirated TV destination—seems to have been recently scrubbed of most infringing links.)

Again, it’s entirely possible that there are errors and omissions in these notes—but the points of concern really are piling up. It seems insane that Vickerman faces ten years in jail for actions taken primarily, and perhaps entirely, by the users of his website and not by him. In court he noted that he researched the law and received advice that merely linking to infringing material was entirely legal—and from the many apparent flaws in the evidence showing that he participated in uploading, it looks like he was careful to ensure that he didn’t cross that line. Some will call this exploiting a legal loophole, but it’s not a loophole—it’s a vital safety valve on copyright, a law that already flirts dangerously with curtailing freedom of speech. It is not illegal to merely point to something in the internet. The real legal loophole is the charge of “conspiracy to defraud”—a seemingly magic way to create a general sense of wrongdoing where no lucid laws have been broken.

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Companies: blinkx, fact, mpaa, surfthechannel

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Comments on “Anonymous Courtroom Notes Raise Serious Questions About SurfTheChannel Conviction”

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Anonymous Coward of Esteemed Trolling (profile) says:

“FACT Star Witness ? Brendan DeBeasi

Jury not told of DeBeasi?s ownership of paedophile site ? which contained images of ?girls under the age of consent that you want to fuck? according to DeBeasi?s blog”

FACT working with a paedophile !…. classy
Worst thing is….that’s not the most disturbing thing about this case.
FACT need purged.

Anonymous Coward of Esteemed Trolling (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:
DOWN: “ is no longer available. The authors have deleted this blog.”

Probably due to the amount of facts.
Looks like people have been played.

GOOGLE SEARCH for the cached version.

Anonymous Coward of Esteemed Trolling (profile) says:

Re: Re: please interwebzgod...make this a drama filled lulz fest

I didn’t know..(IDK for TL;DR phaggots). I always thought….
Protecting the copyrighted videos and images of children’s exploitation and abuse, is more important than protecting the actual children.


If DeBeasi is a “paedophile site owner”
“IF”..what am I saying… everything you read online is true serious FACT

my lulz senses are a tingling moaarr than the start of the inman-FJ drama show, of rich phaggots fighting and raising money for chariy ( using other peoples money..facepalm-lulz )
This story has way moaar potential to stir emotion and butthurt.

The eejit (profile) says:


If true, they’ve broken not only the CMA, but also they’ve illegally tampered with evidence, thus perverting the course of justice on multiple counts. The evidence is 100% tainted, as in the MU case.

It’s starting to look like the criminals at the MPAA are resorting to actual criminality in order to secure a conviction. This never ends well.

PaulT (profile) says:

The thing that always concerns me about these cases is where the judge appears to be biased. Unless there’s more information than the above, he not only ignored previous rulings on similar subject matters but then fully directed the jury to deliver the verdict he preferred. That’s not justice, that’s a kangaroo court. Then you have this: “Judge states “if I have got the law wrong then a higher court than this one will sort it out””

Erm, what? To me, that translates as “I can’t be bothered to look into this properly, someone else will sort my mess out for me”. What? I’d get fired immediately if I openly displayed that attitude, and I look after systems a lot less vital to the country than he does!

Unless more information appears, it simply looks like the law has been bought lock, stock and barrel away from the public, and shows that even people doing things that have been found to be perfectly legal in the past can be made into criminals overnight if the right person pays for an objection. Disgusting.

(Note to the AC idiots: you’ll note that the above is a criticism of the lack of legal fairness, not a support of piracy. Keep your moronic goalpost moving to yourselves).

Anonymous Coward of Esteemed Trolling (profile) says:


AC idiot here, who also supports piracy (that’s why I’m an Idiot ? amirite)

“moronic goalpost moving”
Is that the pricing of content that can be copied endlessly at zero cost ?
or is it the law to protect monopolies of copying the said “worthless data” ?
maybe it’s the moral judgement of copying ?
I know it’s not the adaptation of copyright to fit into this world of now.
(those goalposts will never move, at least not to 70years after my death)

You protest too much… you must be a closeted homo-pirate.
The real question is……
Does anyone actually give a fuck if you are ?

Anonymous Coward of Esteemed Trolling (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

i know…
People shouldn’t really take most of the things I say seriously, or anyone on the internet for that matter.
I try not to push it too far tho…The internet can be serious fucking business.

//start rant//
I also would never dick-troll people, like those sick fucks that have zero empathy and regard for people.
Since when was being cheeky, abusive, threatening etc.. funny. ( a joke without a punchline or just plain bullying )
Malicious trolls are dicks IRL and online too.
//end rant//

Sarcasm, twisted logic and parody.. “funny stuff”, if the definition fits to your tastes, is what this* persona is about.
You are right… people shouldn’t take it seriously.

Anonymous Coward of Esteemed Trolling (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: my turn: I protest too much

Actually genuine and I never originally brought it up(imagined it).
I think most forms of “piracy” are NOTHING to be afraid of and I support it.

idiots :you’ll note that the above is a criticism of the lack of legal fairness, not a support of piracy. “
“Keep your moronic goalpost moving to yourselves”

Sounds like someone is afraid to be called a “supporter of piracy”.
Whats not to get ?

MY TURN: (to prove the point)

So idiots.. that comment was in no way supporting gay people.
Keep your moronic, ever changing “I am pro-gay” comments to yourself.
I was helping that man fix his belt in the public toilet, my hands where full and I fell onto him.
I AM NOT GAY FFS… I chose not to be gay, I deny myself the desires I have.

Facepalm: Did I just protest too much.
People will think I am Gay.

“Does anyone actually give a fuck if I am ?”

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 my turn: I protest too much

Given your username, I’m still not sure if you’re just a spoof account who tries too hard or you’re just supporting the other ACs with a slightly joking username. If the former, you really don’t have to try this hard! One comment in response to one of my comments is enough to get the point… If the latter, get help.

“Sounds like someone is afraid to be called a “supporter of piracy”.
Whats not to get ?”

I don’t like people lying about me in order to attack me. Is that wrong?

Anonymous Coward of Esteemed Trolling (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 #1 issue===Music Remix Copyright

No, of course that is not wrong.

protecting yourself is essential

I don’t know your personal circumstances, you could work for an anti-piracy company ( a valid reason to never been seen as supporting piracy then )
I don’t care if you do, I believe there is NO shame in thinking that copyright law needs to be drastically reduced and changed in area’s, to reflect the age we live in.
You shouldn’t have to feel insecure about appearing to be pro-piracy, especially when the topic is a mans life in threat of “removal of freedom”.

preemptive attacks are not

You made a couple of great points about the fairness of this situation, yet you where so afraid of it appearing as Pro-Piracy, you started an unwarranted argument, preemptively against any “idiot” that has ANY pro-piracy beliefs.
There was no need for the preemptive argument.
I responded to your argument. Is that wrong?

Finally, push it onto me because of my avatar, username( which was given to me, not chosen), your hatred of pro-piracy, the smell of my breath…whatever.
But remember the facts….
You started the topic of argument because of your insecurity.
I hope one day, you do not have to feel insecure when speaking your mind.
Honestly. I do mean that. Even as I probably disagree with you in substance.
How else can we have a rational “argument” (“debate” is a better word), about a copyright that works for everyone, society and artists, not just the monopoly holders at the expense of everyone else ?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 #1 issue===Music Remix Copyright

“You started the topic of argument because of your insecurity.”

I made a comment against the usual idiots who attack me for things I’ve never done instead of looking at what I said. Looks like I was wrong. A brand new idiot has started attacking me.

“I hope one day, you do not have to feel insecure when speaking your mind. “

Yet, you completely ignored the substance of my comment and are instead attacking the aside I made in the last sentence. Why are you afraid to attack something with substance and instead address the irrelevant?

Anonymous Coward of Esteemed Trolling (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

First… you really want to escalate this into a flame war ?

I tried to be reasonable… without insulting you or calling you names.
( I did as a joke say “you must be a closeted homo-pirate.”)
That was clearly a joke, offensive to closet’s, who shouldn’t have to put up with homo-pirates being stuck inside them, for years, being too scared to leave because people might see their true nature.

Point a finger at me… there is three pointing back at you

a. I don’t know your backstory, so don’t know about anyone “attacking you”.

b. This* “idiot” is not “attacking you” now.
(btw… calling people “idiot”… an attack ? OR disagreeing with you ? )

c. Are you trying to create a self fulfilling prophecy ?
( I will not bite, you are not my victim, never where, and you wont play me to it )

d. Yes you are right (in a way) , but I didn’t ignore the “substance” of your comment, I agreed 80%. I didn’t say it. It was the other 20% I disagreed with, I said it.

e. I disagree that it is irrelevant. You called people “idiots” and “moronic”.

Believe me… I hold no personal grudge or distain for you, or even your opinion. It all should be up for debate.

YOU verbally attacked people for NO valid reason !
Accuse me of the same for calling you out on it !
Accept it… you are not a victim, you are the aggressor.
When called out (via a joke) , you play the victim….boo hoo

I will take no further part in this…stupid flame.
I take back all my attempts of rational discussion and consolidation of our differences into an agreeable “agree to disagree”.
I reinstate my original joke.
You must be a pirate, you protest too much.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Wow, a little sensitive, huh? Well, you definitely seem annoyed about the “idiot” remark, but here’s the thing: you’re acting like one. Either you’re serious and you’re making comments that seem rather idiotic, or you’re trolling as your username hints. I consider anyone who deliberately trolls on a regulate basis to be an idiot, so whatever.

“a. I don’t know your backstory, so don’t know about anyone “attacking you”.”

My comment history is available to anyone wishing to read it.

“I didn’t say it”

Well, there’s your problem. If you don’t bother telling people your opinion, how the hell am I meant to know what it is? Next time, try stating your opinion instead of attacking a single sentence of which you admit you know nothing of the backstory.

“e. I disagree that it is irrelevant. You called people “idiots” and “moronic”.”

If the shoe fits… The people I was actually referring to have a long, long history of being just that.



“You must be a pirate, you protest too much.”

I wrote a single sentence pre-empting the morons who instantly accuse anyone who disagrees with their corporate masters’ policies of being a pirate. You’re the one who’s protesting, writing paragraphs of half-coherent ranting because I dared write that sentence. Methinks you protest too much.

Anonymous Coward says:

surely the main thing wrong with the case is the judge himself? how could any judge say “if I have got the law wrong then a higher court than this one will sort it out”. he obviously has no idea of copyright or internet law. why did he then sit on the case? to allow all that FACT has done, the majority of which is in itself illegal, more so than what STC has, and direct the jury to a ‘guilty’ verdict is a gross dereliction of duty. he should be removed from the post. i sincerely hope that there is to be an appeal very quickly and the real truth, not FACT’s truth comes out. this has happened, yet again, at the behest of the entertainment industries, where false evidence has been used to gain a conviction for doing no wrong,something that i had hoped the UK justice system would be more careful to prevent from happening. obviously the ‘UK/US special relationship’ has spread to corruption in the courts.

Pink floyd says:

grounds for appeal?

Judge leaves jury little choice after directing as a matter of law that knowingly linking to infringing content is illegal despite no such offence in the UK;

aint that gonna be ultimate grounds for appeal?
what kinda bullshit nation is the uk anyhow …maybe scotland should leave before it gets too bad….

Anonymous Coward of Esteemed Trolling (profile) says:

Vickerman explains that SurfTheChannel’s then number one rival,, has commercial partnerships with every one of FACT’s directors despite having the exact same links that FACT is using as evidence of illegality in this case;

Legal content strikes again.
Why is sharing legal content illegal ?
The cost of copying is the offspring of nothing and zero’s sexual encounters.
Price fixing monopoly — anyone ?

Violated (profile) says:

Re: Re:

All this says to me is that BlinkX provided lawful content but links to this same lawful media were added to STC. Big Media then gets mad at STC having links and uses FACT to take out a rival.

The flaw here is that this same Big Media were providing the lawful content to STC and it is their used servers which control who can access the content. So it is their content control failure which allowed links on STC to access the lawful content they put online themselves.

If you find it you can lawfully link to it. End of story… almost.

Anonymous Coward of Esteemed Trolling (profile) says:

ffs Techdirt( SELL IT ) The MPAA paedophile SCANDAL

DeBeasi admits MPAA offered him a job not long after he agreed to cooperate in prosecution of Vickermans

Protecting Copyright is a valid reason to pay a paedophile site owner.

WHAT…WHAT..? paedophiles need to protect their content too.

Future news…

MPAA DeBeasi :?girls under the age of consent that you want to fuck?

Duke (profile) says:

How long will that blog last?

I’m wondering how long that blog will last, before FACT, the MPAA or even the judge order its takedown on defamation grounds. Or just go straight to the police via contempt of court or something similar.

Assuming this is all true, the judge is right about one thing. If he got the law wrong (which he may have done), it is for a higher court to sort it out (no matter how much that would cost). I’m not an expert on this sort of thing, but it looks like there are pretty solid grounds for an appeal in there, if some of that is true.

On top of that, it does look like some serious questions should be asked about FACT/the MPAA’s activities; arguably there’s at least one fraud by false representation in there, aside from all the issues with the evidence. Unfortunately, given the supposed close ties between the police and FACT, it is unlikely the police will bother investigating.

[Cases like this remind me why I’m spending large chunks of time and money to become a lawyer.]

Anonymous Coward says:

‘as a matter of law that knowingly linking to infringing content is illegal despite no such offence in the UK’

what right has the judge got to say this? he is using his own personal opinion on something that is not in UK law or has been convinced that another country’s law (USA?) has precedent over UK law. either way, he should be removed from office immediately!

anyone know if an appeal has been lodged?

Violated (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I sure hope Anton Vickerman does appeal. If what has been said above is true I would already list STC in the win group along with OiNK and FileSoup with STC simply marked as pending.

Nice to see that FACT are lying their butt off again. Nothing new there of course.

Then what can I say to all evidence coming from a USB stick that got every file changed while in FACT’s not so careful hands. This idiot Judge should have had them bin it and to insist on a clean tamper free copy. As it was changed then you can only imagine a long list of programmes that could have poked, prodded and reformatted the data. Hell a change in the date does indicate that every file was modified.

Duke (profile) says:

Re: Weird question

Conspiracy to defraud isn’t actually a conspiracy to commit a fraud, it is its own special, stand-alone offence.

But yes, it requires “an agreement between two or more people” – given that Mrs Vickerman was acquitted, I’m guessing she wasn’t the other party – possibly the “star witness” who built their site, but more likely the users of the website. Probably on the grounds that there was an implied agreement to infringement copyright or something vague like that.

Either way, they don’t actually have to go after the other people in the alleged conspiracy – there are cases where they haven’t due to the other parties being either whistle-blowers or undercover law enforcement (as in the recent Tappin extradition case).

Duke (profile) says:

Re: Entirely off topic, but...

… the guy was being threatened with indefinite detention in a “sexual correction” facility, even if he was acquitted. The judges wanted to extradite him, but felt they couldn’t unless the US gave assurances that he wouldn’t be sent on this program, as it would amount to a flagrant breach of Article 5 ECHR (the one that says you can’t be locked up without charge or trial). The US refused to give such assurances.

The only reason it got as far as it did was that the USians seem to have misled the trial judge about the program – something the appeal court wasn’t too happy about. Obviously this isn’t the case elsewhere, but in the UK we do not let the state (or other states) lock people up indefinitely without trial – the Home Secretary was recently held in contempt of court for holding someone in prison slightly longer than they were supposed to be there – our courts take this sort of thing very seriously.

Sadly, the Daily Mail saw “paedophile” and “human rights” and so launched a crusade. They also tried to work in the “one-sided extradition act” thing, despite this actually representing the other side; i.e. refusal to extradite. The really depressing thing is the “worst voted” comment on that article… which makes a perfectly reasonable and valid point.

As for him being married to an MoJ employee, the MoJ is the political/executive part of the justice system, not the judicial. The executive/government approved the extradition, it was the judges who refused it (based on, you know, evidence, law and rational arguments, rather than doing what was politically convenient). All having an MoJ wife suggests is that he might have had access to good lawyers/legal advice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They should not be extradicting any of these people to the US. While this guys charges merit extradition, in the circumstances he should not be extradited.

The US only needs to give an assurance that the guy will get a trail rather than being summarily locked up for life without such due process.

Holding a trial is not too much to ask before locking someone up for life, not matter what you claim they’ve done.

Anonymous Coward says:


Judge states “if I have got the law wrong then a higher court than this one will sort it out”

Fixed: Judge states “the bribe I received was bigger than my annual salary, I thought the ‘higher’ court judges could use a ‘bonus’ as well, so I’ll let them squeeze the **AA for a bigger cut if they want to”

Anonymous Coward says:

You pile it all up, and still you ignore what the site was doing: making it possible for people to enjoy pirated TV.

It’s the only reason the site was popular. It wasn’t because of the feeds that were available everywhere else. People went there for pirated material.

You can ignore it, but all you are doing is ignoring reality.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You have that wrong there. Here is the truth:

You pile it all up, and still you ignore what the site was doing: making it possible for people to enjoy TV.

Notice the slight, yet world altering change? This site was doing something that the television and movie industries continue to refuse to do. Make it easy for people to find their favorite shows. That is not illegal.

The fact that the tv and movie companies had to resort to such an broad law to shut this guy down is a testament to the fact that what he was doing was not illegal.

You can ignore it, but all you are doing is ignoring reality.

Perhaps you should hold that truth to heart yourself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

My computer makes that possible. I don’t think that’s any excuse to arrest anyone.
The internet makes it possible, but I don’t think the internet can be arrested.
Human beings make that possible. There’s be very little watching of pirated tv on planet earth without humans. The good news is this suggests an ‘ultimate solution’ to piracy. The bad news is the IP maximalists will face diving profits once that solution is applied. Not that they’ll be around to complain of course.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“You pile it all up, and still you ignore what the site was doing: making it possible for people to enjoy pirated TV.”

You pile it all up, and still you ignore what the VCR was doing: making it possible for people to enjoy pirated TV.

You pile it all up, and still you ignore what the Walkman was doing: making it possible for people to enjoy pirated music.

You pile it all up, and still you ignore what the iPod was doing: making it possible for people to enjoy pirated music

You pile it all up, and still you ignore what the photocopier was doing: making it possible for people to enjoy pirated books.

You pile it all up, and still you ignore what the camera was doing: making it possible for people to enjoy pirated art.

You pile it all up, and still you ignore what the CD-R was doing: making it possible for people to enjoy pirated software.

Yes, let’s ban them all since they have some illegitimate uses! That will increase sales for everyone and have no unintended negative conseques, ever!


Anonymous Coward says:

Does anybody else suspect these 'anonymous' courtroom notes were in fact taken by Vickerman

Did it occur to anybody else that this is a ploy by Vickerman to discredit the evidence provided by FACT and witnesses? I think the jailbait piece may have been fabricated to discredit the witness, is there any actual proof??

Duke (profile) says:

Re: Does anybody else suspect these 'anonymous' courtroom notes were in fact taken by Vickerman

It’s possible this could be fabricated, but a lot of the facts are “public record”, particularly the stuff about the FACT/MPAA investigation, and the FACT person who was present at the initial arrest and had access to evidence. That was all discussed in an earlier case covering this situation.

Secondly, if this was an attempt to discredit a witness, one would expect it to have been published *before* the trial (even if that would be contempt of court). Of course, as discussed elsewhere, it would be helpful to get a transcript of the trial (assuming all copies haven’t mysteriously disappeared) – otherwise we’ll just have to wait for the appeal.

Rick O'Shea (profile) says:

validity check

Surely the court transcript is a matter of public record.
Perhaps one of the over 150,000 lawyers in the UK with access to the Newcastle crown court transcripts for June 25, 2012 could simply look it up and confirm or deny some of the points in the anonymous blog post that has since been taken down.
Otherwise, I would consider this input as highly suspect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Vickerman in action?

Hi Leigh,

The blog post was probably written by Vickerman himself. It may be difficult to do research as to who has put up the blog in the first place but it wouldn’t have been difficult for you to verify this material with what has been produced in the courtroom.

But in any event, the more attention for this court case, the better…

Steve Lanning (profile) says:

D?j? vu

It would not surprise me one tiny little bit, if everything in your post was in fact completely accurate.

FACT and the Police are still doing the same now as they did in my case. From my own unfortunate and farcical experience with them, I’ve seen 1st hand their way of manipulating and interpreting everything to suit their nefarious needs, their mishandling of evidence and the dirty underhanded tactics they use to get the results they want.

It truly is despicable that they can continue to violate the rights of others in this way, they appear to believe that they are allowed to get away with this injustice without question or any form of repercussions for wrong-doing, time and time and time again.


I sincerely hope that you have the stamina, the will and the money to continue your fight and that you succeed in exposing them all.

Good luck with your appeal.

Anonymous Howard says:

I’d like to point out that, in the blog, it says:

“I have spent a few weeks at the trial of Anton Vickerman and below are my notes. I missed a couple of weeks in the middle and a day or two here and there but here is what I saw and heard.”

Assuming we can trust this blogger, who posted anonymously, it can’t be Vickerman or a juror.

If you do a Google search right now for “surfthechannelfraudtrial 2012 06”, you can still obtain the cached page. I’ve tweeted a link to a PDF version of the page to the Techdirt crew, for them to link if they so choose.

Anonymous Coward says:

I wondered that as well so I checked domaintools for the whois historic records. Seems he no longer owns it but did in August 08:

NeueWay Creations LLC
8 Tina Rd
Milford, MA 01757


Administrative Contact:
DeBeasi, Brendan
8 Tina Rd
Milford, MA 01757
+1.5084099100 Fax: +1.3105642007

Technical Contact:
Administrator, DNS
8520 National Blvd.
Suite A
Culver City, CA 90232
+1.8775784000 Fax: +1.3105642007

Registration Service Provider:
(mt) Media Temple,
818-301-2774 (fax)
To make contact, or to request technical support please first visit the
(mt) AccountCenter:

Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC.
Record last updated on 10-Aug-2008.
Record expires on 10-Aug-2009.
Record created on 10-Aug-2008.

Registrar Domain Name Help Center:

Domain servers in listed order:

Domain status: ok

He seems to use the name “wanderer55t” as is viewable here:…566.5909.0.6100.…0.0.BoEoNBB36cM&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=1d633261c2cc3a3f&biw=837&bih=537

So he starts to promote JailBaitBox (although “someone” has been busy trying to erase tracks though so lot of stuff is only viewable via cachers):

Then he promotes it through StumbleUpon:

Profile –
JailBaitBox stumble (notice his username is the discoverer) –

…then he tries to get a script created to auto promote it through Digg:

Profile –
Digg Job –

I feel like a real live net detective lol!!

Martin T says:

Irrational and unscientific claim by judge

In his Sentencing Remarks the judge said:

“The investigation was unquestionably hampered by your inability or as I believe it to be, your unwillingness to disclose the password to your computer which would have allowed for a much swifter and doubtless very much easier interrogation of it. You claimed that you were unable to recall the password without access to a key board. That I do not accept. You demonstrated in the trial that you are an intelligent man whose power of recall of minute details of the investigation and the operation of the site, illustrated the absurdity of the suggestion that you needed access to a keyboard in order to recall the password. In my judgement you were deliberately obstructing the investigation.”

I know from my own experience that this is nonsense. To log into the Open University web site I need my registration number and I have entered it hundreds of times. But I once logged in from my mobile, which has a completely different keyboard, and it took me a dozen attempts to get it right. It seems that my memory of the number is based largely on the physical movements of my fingers across the keyboard.

I recall from having studied psychology many years ago that this kind of thing has been researched, people vary a lot in how they remember things. The man’s high intelligence has nothing to do with it.

Even if they did not want to give him computer access, it would have been very easy to detach a keyboard from a computer so that he could have found the password.

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