SurfTheChannel Founder Gets Extra Jail Time For Revealing Documents That Raised Questions About His Conviction

from the thou-dost-protest-too-much? dept

You may recall that, earlier this year, we wrote about a very troubling ruling in the UK against the founder of SurfTheChannel, Anton Vickerman. STC was a linking site, no different than others that had been found perfectly legal in the UK. After the conviction, which resulted in Vickerman being put in jail for four years, some additional info came out that was really horrifying. First, there was the fact that this criminal case, including the investigation, was driven entirely by a private anti-piracy organization, FACT, which is financed by the Hollywood studios. Yes, a criminal case that was run by private interests. Actual law enforcement had refused to proceed with the case, saying that there wasn't evidence of direct infringement. Furthermore, some "anonymous" notes from the court room suggested a judge was on a mission to put Vickerman away.

Now comes the news that Vickerman has been hit with contempt of court and given an extra month in jail all for releasing some of the documents that revealed what a farce the case was. Once again, the judge seems focused on punishing Vickerman for his attitude, rather than any real problem:
Vickerman, 38, apologised to Judge John Evans, who had previously branded him the "most arrogant" defendant he had ever come across.

Vickerman, from Gateshead, said: "I genuinely believed that this was in the public domain, so I apologise for that."

The judge jailed Vickerman for an extra month for the contempt, saying: "You were aware that there were restrictions upon what you could publish.
That whole "most arrogant" part is really troubling. If you were genuinely innocent and being railroaded in a criminal case by private money (the same money that financed a competitor to your site), I think you'd be pretty pissed off too.

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  1. icon
    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), 22 Nov 2012 @ 1:44am

    Pure, farcical injustice

    Let's face it, he's a political prisoner at this point.

    What he should do is submit a DPA request to FACT giving them 28 days to produce all data stored about him on their systems or face their own lawsuit.

    Then he could release that to the public (being his own data) and warn people about what data FACT is gathering on private individuals.

    Also a FOIA request to the police with some pointed questions about the extent of the involvement of FACT and the Motion Picture Ass. of America in their investigation - and publish that.

    It's really despicable the way he's being portrayed by the media - such as the BBC article linked above - as a criminal when at best this is a civil infringement (and even that is contentious).

    It might even be worth an IPCC complaint depending upon what the FOIA request turned up.

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