The U.S. federal court system has been trying to extradite 24-year-old Richard O’Dwyer, a UK citizen who has never been to the U.S., so that they can put him on trial for copyright infringement. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (“ICE”) claims that his TVShack website violated US copyrights. In 2010 they seized his TVShack.net domain name and charged him with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and criminal infringement of copyright. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years. The federal court has sought his extradition since 2011.
Last week Mr. O’Dwyer’s lawyers reached an agreement with the federal court which settles the matter without jeopardizing his freedom.
Mr. O’Dwyer hasn’t been convicted of any crime in either the U.S. or the U.K., nor is it clear that his website violated U.K. law, since it didn’t store content. It merely contained links to content. The site was not hosted in the U.S.; the domain was apparently registered with U.S.-based Verisign.
Wikipedia has an excellent article on Richard O’Dwyer. Its Legal objections section is worth reading:
Iain Connor from Pinsent Masons said,
It appears that U.S. copyright owners are seeking to rely on the Extradition Act and the U.S. case law to secure a prosecution for the authorisation of copyright infringement by the provision of links to infringing content.
U.S. companies are likely to try and secure a conviction in the U.S. where they know that they could succeed on the basis of an offence of authorising copyright infringement . . . the only [U.K.] case where this was looked at was the ‘TV Links ‘ case” where it had proved unsuccessful.
The “U.S. companies” alluded to above are principally the RIAA and MPAA. Their business models are threatened by easy duplication of digital media. Can their business models endure? Read Both sides of the IP war gird for battle.
Mr. O’Dwyer’s mother writes a blog about her son’s extradition battle. It appears that his lawyers have asked that she say nothing more until the extradition order is withdrawn.
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