A UK court has ruled that a British student can be extradited to the United States of America to be tried for copyright infringement. If convicted, the student could face up to 10 years in jail.
23-year old Richard O’Dwyer is accused of creating TVShack, a website that pointed users to other sites that enabled free access to copyrighted films and televisions shows, with O’Dwyer earning money by advertising on the site.
While O’Dwyer’s attorneys argue that creating such a website is not an offence under British law and that the site did not store copyrighted material itself, but acted in a similar capacity as Google, O’Dwyer has now been cleared for extradition to the US.
District Judge Purdy said in his ruling: “There are said to be direct consequences of criminal activity by Richard O’Dwyer in the USA albeit by him never leaving the north of England. Such a state of affairs does not demand a trial here if the competent UK authorities decline to act and does, in my judgement, permit one in the USA.”
The decision of the court makes O’Dwyer the first British citizen to be extradited to the US for copyright infringement.
The extradition is possible because of the 2003 Extradition Act between the UK and US, however there are criticisms that the Act is being abused. The Extradition Act was never intended for people like O’Dwyer, whose offences are not even crimes in the UK, claim the opponents of the ruling, adding that, as TVShack was not hosted on American servers, eventual charges against O’Dwyer should be brought before a UK court.
O’Dwyer’s extradition must be now be approved by the UK Home Secretary. Should the extradition be enforced, O’Dwyer is to appeal against the decision.