So An Anti-Piracy Trade Group Just Tossed A British Guy In Jail

In a news case that sounds like something your college roommate wrote while stoned, a private organization has hunted down, arrested, prosecuted, and thrown a man in jail for facilitating the piracy of intellectual property. Seriously. This happened.

It’s difficult to give credence to this story, but Ars Technica has the full, creepy breakdown of what happened:

FACT, not public officials in the UK, was the driving force behind Vickerman’s prosecution. Indeed, FACT effectively took on the role of a private law enforcement agency. Private investigators hired by FACT first identified Vickerman as the administrator of Surf The Channel and built the case against him. His assets were frozen at FACT’s request by a government agency—which was itself funded by FACT. And when the UK’s public prosecutors decided not to press charges against Vickerman at all, FACT initiated a criminal prosecution on its own dime.

Anton Vickerman’s crime? Curating collections of links that went to infringing content.

This whole thing reads like an elaborate drug bust except Vickerman, according to the country he is a citizen of, didn’t do enough wrong to merit an actual criminal prosecution. That didn’t stop these guys from sneaking into his house, tailing his wife, digging into his cable subscription, freezing his assets, and essentially railroading him into jail.

What’s disgusting about all this is that I guarantee you Vickerman’s site Surf The Channel did miniscule, if any, damage to the profits of the body that essentially dragged him into prison. They just wanted to crucify him in court to make an example out of him.

This cannot and should not be allowed to happen. Hopefully the British government will come to its senses, and start putting some of the actual criminals here in jail.