Hollywood v. Richard O'Dwyer: Extradition for Copyright Infringement?

On August 8th, 2012 reporter Josh Holliday (writing in the Guardian) updated the case of Richard O'Dwyer, a student at England's Sheffield Hallam University, accused of copyright infringement for creating a website known as TVShack.net.

Richard O'Dwyer is a 24 year old student of Interactive Media with Animation. For the last 14 months he and his mother have been battling extradition to the US to face charges of copyright infringement. He faces ten years in jail if convicted.

The MPAA has apparently decided to make an example of Richard O'Dwyer, even though he is boyishly-photogenic and the site that he launched in December of 2007 is not alleged to have hosted pirated media. Nevertheless, the MPAA wants to make "a coordinated effort to focus more on the criminal activity involved in the operation of TVShack.net and other similar linking sites." And, to strike back against sites that index links to pirated media on other sites, the MPAA has decided to target Richard O'Dwyer - in part because of the surprising profits that he allegedly earned by facilitating unpermissioned copying (the MPAA claims that Richard O'Dwyer earned $230,000 from his site).

At a recent hearing on the extradition request, Richard O'Dwyer's lawyer argued that "the server was not based in the U.S. at all", and that "Mr O'Dwyer did not have copyrighted material on his website; he simply provided a link. The essential contention is that the correct forum for this trial is in fact here in Britain, where he was at all times." But the MPAA insists that Richard O'Dwer has violated US law (conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and criminal infringement of copyright) and, that under the English Extradition Act of 2003, extradition to the US to face those charges is appropriate.

Various supporters of Richard O'Dwyer (including Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales) have argued that UK citizens should not be subject to U.S. legal standards on copyright infringement. But in March 2012 England's Home Secretary approved Richard O'Dwyer's extradition. That decision is on appeal.

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