Copyright owners accused Surfthechannel of providing links to illegally copied television shows and movies.
At one stage, it was understood to be among the most popular sources of pirated content in the UK.
According to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact), the site attracted more than 400,000 visitors a day at its height in 2009 and generated more than £35,000 a month in advertising revenue for its owners.
Vickerman designed the main functionality of the site in 2007, and then hired others to source the material and run the back-end functions.
The 38-year-old from Gateshead was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and "facilitating" copyright infringement in June this year.
He was sentenced to four years in prison today at Newcastle Crown Court. The maximum sentence that could have been handed down by the judge was 10 years.
Vickerman was arrested after Fact and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) hired a private investigator to capture secret photographs of his home and computer in July 2008, on the pretence of wanting to buy the property.
They had found that he was running Surfthechannel through a limited company, called Scopelight, which was claimed to be generating £300,000 a year.
The profits were being transfered to a bank account in Latvia operated by an offshore company based in Dominica, according to Fact and the MPAA.
After handing the evidence they had gathered to police, officers raided Vickerman's property in August 2008 and arrested him and his wife. She was later found not guilty by the jury.
Despite the arrests, Surfthechannel continued to operate and only went offline in May, when the trial began.
Surfthechanel.com did not actually host any illegal content, but rather offered links to other services, such as Megavideo and Tudou, where users could stream the material. The website also had various legal videos.
There has been concern that the law is not clear over whether sites are actually guilty of copyright infringement if they are just offering indexs of links to pirated material available elsewhere.
But Fact claims that Surfthechannel was "not a passive linking or search site", as Vickerman "targeted pirated films including those not yet released at the cinema which he and his staff secretly and anonymously uploaded to third party sites before linking to them via STC".
The body said that members of the Surfthechannel community were also "encouraged to find, check and add links, ensuring that surfthechannel was always one of the most up to date databases of illegally copied material anywhere on the internet".
Kieron Sharp, the director general of FACT, said: "This case conclusively shows that running a website that deliberately sets out to direct users to illegal copies of films and TV shows will result in a criminal conviction and a long jail sentence.
"Mr Vickerman knew what he was doing from the outset, having been involved in the pirate community for some time. This was not a passive search engine. Surfthechannel was created specifically to make money from criminal activity and it became the biggest site of its kind on the internet within two years.
"The sentencing indicates the severity of the offences committed and the sophistication of his criminal enterprise and should send a very strong message to those running similar sites that they can be found, arrested and end up in prison."