Student faces US copyright extradition

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Student faces US copyright extradition

Granted bail, banned from web.

A 23-year old British university student is facing extradition to the US for allegedly running website that pointed users to other sites that hosted copyright infringing material.  

Richard O’Dwyer, a computer science student, was granted bail in a British court last week at a hearing that formed part of the extradition process. 

His lawyers had argued that he should be tried in the UK and that his website had not actually hosted any infringing material, according to the BBC

If he is extradited he will face up to five years imprisonment on one count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and another of criminal copyright infringement.

O’Dwyer’s website, TVShack, had been taken down with around 80 other sites last year under US authorities’ “Operation In Our Sites”, according to TorrentFreak

The operation, led by the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the US Department of Homeland Security, specifically targeted websites that linked to other sites that re-broadcasted TV programs and movies, according to Electronic Frontiers Foundation.

Staff attorney Abigail Phillips criticised the operation for blurring the distinction between criminal and civil remedies. 

Turning a civil matter into a criminal one is the reason the US is attempting to have O'Dwyer extradited, according to solicitor advocate David Cook

A UK ruling in 2010 involving the prosecution of a similar website, TV-Links, suggested that O’Dwyer would not face criminal charges if prosecuted in the UK. 

“By moving O’Dwyer to the US, he is subject to its harsher copyright legislation, lack of public funding and is removed from a jurisdiction in which he may have been covered by an absolute defence,” wrote Cook in The Telegraph (UK).

O’Dwyer’s bail conditions included that he could not access the internet or register a new domain, according to the BBC. He is set to face court again on 12 September.

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