|By Hellerick (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
The New York Times is reporting that the US Department of Justice is seeking to have Richard O’Dwyer, a 24-year-old college student from Great Britain, extradited on criminal charges of copyright infringement. The possible punishment: 10 years in a federal penitentiary.
In 2008, O’Dwyer first set up a website, TVShack.net, which allowed users to search for and link to other sites, including ones that the federal authorities argue showed pirated movies and television shows.
The US government shut down TVShack.net in summer 2010. But Mr. O’Dwyer was apparently unbowed. TVShack.net had been growing in popularity, and it made about $230,000 from advertising over the course of two years, federal prosecutors claim.
“America? They have nothing to do with me,” Mr. O’Dwyer had declared, according to his mother. He then subsequently reopened his site as TVShack.cc, which he reckoned was beyond the reach of the United States. He was wrong.
A few months later came a knock on the door from the British police. A judge ruled that Mr. O’Dwyer would not be prosecuted in Britain. Instead, the US Department of Justice would seek to extradite him.
Prosecutors also claim that O'Dwyer was well aware that the material was copyrighted. They cite an announcement on TVShack that urged users to be patient with download times because they were “saving quite a lot of money (especially when putting several visits to the theater or seasons together).”
The British home secretary has approved the extradition order and reaffirmed recently that she would let the order stand. O’Dwyer has appealed and a hearing in British courts is expected this fall.