This article was first published on file-sharing news site TorrentFreak under a Creative Commons licence and is re-published here with TorrentFreak’s permission. It was written by TorrentFreak writer Ernesto.
news Richard O’Dwyer, the UK-based ex-administrator of the video linking website TVShack will be extradited to the US to face copyright infringement charges. Despite public outrage Home Secretary Theresa May approved the extradition order today. The 23-year-old student has never visited United States, but now faces several years in a US prison.
Last year Richard O’Dwyer was arrested by police for operating TVShack, a website that carried links to copyrighted TV-shows.
Following his detention in the UK’s largest prison, the site owner fought a looming extradition to the US, but without success. After a UK judge gave the green light to extradite the student two months ago, Home Secretary Theresa May officially approved the request from US authorities today.
Julia O’Dwyer, Richard’s mother, is severely disappointed with the decision and says that her son has been “sold” to the US. The extradition may disrupt his life for years. “Today, yet another British citizen is betrayed by the British Government,” she said. “Richard’s life – his studies, work opportunities, financial security – is being disrupted, for who knows how long, because the UK Government has not introduced the much-needed changes to the extradition law.”
The extradition is controversial because under certain circumstances merely linking to copyright material isn’t an offense in the UK. In 2010, linking website TV-Links was deemed to be a ‘mere conduit’ of information and its admins were acquitted.
In the US recent court rulings are of a totally different kind. There, Richard O’Dwyer faces the same fate as several other operators of linking sites that were recently on trial.
In January, Ninjavideo founder Hana Beshara was sentenced to 22 months in prison followed by 2 years of probation, 500 hours of community service and ordered to repay nearly $210,000. Fellow admin Matthew Smith received 14 months in prison, two years supervised release, and was ordered to pay back just over $172,000.
I suspect that when future generations are running our government, legal and criminal institutions in several decades, they will look back on the continued string of arrests over online copyright infringement issues as somewhat barbaric. It is apparently that the nature of copyright needs to drastically change, if the concept is to remain at all valid in this age of rapid technological change. Unfortunately, the law will not change fast enough for people such as O’Dwyer to remain out of the hands of the law.
It is disturbing that, although the modern societies of Australia and the UK have a strong and current social norm that downloading material from the Internet should not be treated as criminal behaviour, our laws do not yet reflect this. Does O’Dwyer deserve to suffer through several years of gaol time in the US, because of linking to copyrighted material on the Internet? Obviously the content owners would say yes, but I suspect most citizens in our Western democracies would probably say no.
Opinion/analysis by Renai LeMay