SurfTheChannel Decision A Victory for Creative Story Telling

by Ted Shapiro 06/28/2012 08:57 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Yesterday, a court in the UK took another important step in the effort to ensure that the millions of people worldwide who pour their hard work and creativity into the production of movies and TV shows are in a position to receive compensation for their work.  A jury of his peers convicted Anton Vickerman of criminal charges in connection with his operation of Surfthechannel.com, formerly one of the most trafficked “leeching” pirate sites in the world. The site by some estimates generated more than $50,000 per month in advertising revenue for the criminals who ran it.  The jury’s verdict reaffirmed the simple fact that intentionally distributing stolen content is stealing, regardless of where the content is hosted.

This verdict, which comes in large part thanks to the work of the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft, is an important victory for all audiences who love watching high quality TV shows and movies online.  It means that viewers looking for their favorite shows and movies can be that much more confident that the sites they are visiting are legitimate, safe and secure.  It also means that the advertising revenue generated by their visit isn’t going to a criminal organization that rips  off the hardworking people – electricians, makeup artists, construction workers, to name a few – who make their living making movies.  It ensures that the creativity behind beloved  shows and movies will continue to be funded -- and flourish.

At the end of the day, the people running Surfthechannel were profiting by stealing other people’s hard work.  They were killing jobs by stealing revenue from the people who put their creativity, effort and ideas into developing the new and innovative entertainment audiences love.  Undermining even a little of the success of their work now makes it substantially harder for them to create at all in the future.  Yesterday’s verdict is an important step toward making sure the storytellers who create content will be able to continue to do so.

German Court's Verdict in Kino.to Case Supports an Internet that Works for Everyone

by Ted Shapiro 06/20/2012 06:11 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

GERMANY: In the recent decision, where the kino.to ringleader was convicted and sentenced to over 4 years in prison, the public prosecutor made the important argument that shutting down kino.to is about ensuring that consumers have access to their shows and movies from trustworthy, safe and legitimate sources.  We sometimes forget that in addition to harming the creative community, mass dissemination of infringing content on the internet also has a negative impact on consumers who are concerned about their privacy and safe internet use and rightly expect to view shows and movies online through safe, legitimate outlets.  The fact is, the operators of sites like kino.to value their own privacy as it is key to their “business” but they have no regard for the privacy or online security of internet users.

Kino.to was the most popular streaming portal site for German-speaking territories with up to 4 million users a day. None of the key operators were modern day ‘Robin Hoods’ who wanted to provide movies ‘free of charge’; their main objective was to make a substantial amount of money mainly through advertising.  The site was incredibly lucrative for its operators: according to some reports the ringleader earned as much as 6 million Euro – obviously none of this money was reinvested back into the new production of content.

The case against the kino.to syndicate was an important milestone, which led to the conviction of all six core members of this criminal group who jointly infringed copyright on a commercial scale.  But most significantly, it paves the way for an internet that works for everyone by clearly recognizing that those who illegally distribute content are not in business for the greater good. The Kino.tv business model worked for its operators who made millions from ads but not for viewers whose privacy was compromised and not for the many thousands of creators and makers whose content was made available for free, denying them the value of their hard work and of the economic incentive to keep creating and making it. Courts in other countries who have taken action against Kino.to and similar sites can take comfort in the fact that their decisions have been proportionate responses to a serious problem that affects society as a whole.


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