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.