Richard O’Dwyer Loses US Extradition Battle Over Copyright Infringement

I’m sure you know who Richard O’Dwyer is by now, if not here is a quick summary so you can understand why this case is so full of crap:

Richard is a computer student from the UK, when he was a teenager; he opened TVShack, a website that had links to other sites. These sites had copyright material, videos, movies, etc. The website was hosted on UK servers, and it did not break and UK laws – meaning it was completely legal… in UK. The US got a drift of the website and since it’s a crime in the US they filed extradition charges against the 23 year old so he can be tried under American Laws and Rules. Here are the main things, Richard has never been to the US, his website is not hosted on a US server and is not even hosted on a US domain hosting service… which means the US needs to stay out of it… but it couldn’t resist.

On Friday, a judge ruled on that Richard, the 23-year-old student, can be extradited to the United States for running his website posting links to pirated TV shows and films. He faces a potential 10-year term in a US jail despite never having been to America or using web servers based in the country.

I can guarantee you that anonymous, reddit, and every other “sane” online user is not going to agree with this – especially if they are seeking a 10 year prison sentence.

kurtwinter – a reddit user said: I just can’t understand how 10 years for posting some TV videos is any where near justice. What’s attempted murder? 2-5 years? Copyright should never work this way – civil penalties only, and only under very strict circumstances.

And I agree with him, this is in the same grounds of SOPA and PIPA. He honestly did not do anything wrong: he posted links to sites that were doing illegal things online but how many other services do this same thing?

Richards lawyers argued that his website did not directly host any files, which meant, according to the student’s lawyers, that it acted as little more than a Google-type search engine and did not breach copyright laws. Which makes sense – how many videos and illegal software download links does Google link back to each day?

Last year, the UK tried to prosecute a similar site, TV-Links, but the case was thrown out because the website is not illegal in UK laws.

So what makes this case any different?

The only reason he’s being extradited is because the US used the contentious extradition treaty between Britain and the US, which critics allege is greatly biased against UK nationals fighting their removal to America.  Richard’s mother felt “disgusted” by the verdict, she said: “Look at how many people we send over there, and how few come here. If they can come for Richard, they can come for anyone.”

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency stated that TVShack’s only connection to the US was the website address ending in .com. Such suffixes are routed through Verisign, an internet infrastructure company based in Virginia, which the agency believes is sufficient to seek a US prosecution. If they succeed in extraditing him – they are going to start  actively pursuing websites similar to TVShack if they have the .com or .net prefixes. Had Richard used .co.uk he would of been in the clear.

Just to put this case into perspective

Imagine you have a blog, and you post a picture of a woman’s face on the blog. Then out of nowhere, The Israel Government finds your blog and says “this is illegal in our country, extradite him” and the U.S. Government instead of protecting you since you did nothing wrong in the USA hands you over just so they can be in good standing with Israel.

Ultimately that’s what’s happening here. The US is the popular guy in school that everyone wants to hang out with, once you’re friends you have to do everything you can to stay friends with them – even if this means throwing out your friends into the fire pit. [Guardian]