“Pirating” UK student to be extradited to US


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


  1. It’s not a good look when the current-era fount of democracy, the Westminster system, tosses one of it’s citizens to rapacious corporate interests and their lovely lawyers.

  2. I am a citizen of Australia and have never been charged with or convicted of an offence under Australian law nor in any other Country I have visited.

    I have provided links to copyright material the same as most people who make comments, in order to support my position, and also provided appropriately attributed quotes which is perfectly legal in Australia.

    It now seems that the USA believes it can look at what I have done in Australia and if it thinks I have broken their laws it can prosecute me in the USA.

    The USA are acting like school yard bullies and it is time they were taken to task by the rest of the world.

    At present they are making China look positively benevolent. At least the Chinese wait until you are actually on their soil before instituting legal proceedings against you; valid or not.

    The UK government in my opinion is absolutely gutless to not defend their citizen who has not broken UK law and has never been in the USA. or conducted an enterprise under the USA’s jurisdiction.

    Finally let me ask why, if linking to illegal copyright material is illegal in the USA, Google, Bing etc., and their executives haven’t been charged in the good ole USA?

    • Well, Google has removed a lot of suspect links from its index in this regard :)

      But yeah, I agree, the UK Govt should be doing more here. I’m not a huge fan of extradition laws in general. So often they seem to be used in dodgy ways.

    • yeah I came close once to this happening, not too sure if it was just threat or reality, never found out.
      I never did find out if it was illegal or not..
      I provided links to a USA female model URL public profile on sites myspace and yahoo. These are profiles that she made herself all I did was post the links to them on a board “Check out this hottie type thing” Follow the links to her profile.
      Next thing I’m hearing about copyright violations, private investigators and lawyers being put on me, extradition etc.
      I never uploaded a thing or gained nothing but a huge headache from doing that.
      I simply posted the url’s to her profile where she uploaded her pictures.
      So I dunno,
      The model and I went our separate ways. Lesson learned though I’ll never do that again lol

  3. It’s totally ridiculous! Posting a link is NOT copying or stealing – it’s POINTING!

    If the US considers POINTING as ownership (or theft), then every homeowner and business in the US should sue the GPS companies for trespassing just for POINTING users of their technology to their private or business address.

    I see no difference in this analogy to posting a hyperlink on a web page. The US (and it’s legislators) have become so intoxicated with their own self-importance – it’s nausiating!

Comments are closed.