Summary:

An English student who set up a website comprising links to illegally-hosted TV shows and movies must be extradited to the U.S. to face char…

piracy / pirate / skull and crossbones / poison symbol / illegal download
photo: Shutterstock / Ilona Baha

An English student who set up a website comprising links to illegally-hosted TV shows and movies must be extradited to the U.S. to face charges, an English judge has ruled.

Richard O’Dwyer, who is 23, had set up TV Shack, which, he protests, did not host any copyrighted material.

TV Shack (screengrab) worked by letting its users contribute links to shows. Its tvshack.net domain was seized in June 2010 after UK and U.S. authorities commandeered O’Dwyers equipment from his home. Later, it was re-established at tvshack.cc, also now seized.

“(O’Dwyer) did not charge users but sold $230,000 worth of advertising on the site, according to the U.S. authorities,” according to Reuters (NYSE: TRI), which O’Dwyer told: “I was forced to set up advertising because of the massive server fees. When you’ve got a website with over 300,000 people a month visiting, there’s a need for infrastructure to support that.”

That O’Dwyer assisted piracy appears eminently arguable. Not hosting such material didn’t stop The Pirate Bay getting successfully sued. But O’Dwyer’s lawyer protests otherwise and reckons his actions would be liable to civil but not criminal prosecution in the UK.

The controversial part about this case is the extradition since, though many of the entertainment companies affected are based in Hollywood, O’Dwyer, a university student, lives in Sheffield. His mother claims the Department for Public Prosecutions, via a letter to her son, regards the matter as non-serious.

Text on TV Shack before its shutdown had stated it was an LLC (a US-based limited liability company). No record of such a company exists. “TV Shack™ has set itself a target of being in the top 1,000 visited websites globally by the end of the year 2009,” the site had said.

To users who complained about picture quality, the site had said: “Please keep in mind that you’re watching videos for free as opposed to spending over 20 dollars at the movie theater or purchasing a show. You’re saving quite a lot of money (especially when putting several visits to the theater or seasons together) by having to wait a little bit of time.

Parallels have been drawn with the case of English alleged hacker Gary MacKinnon, who is facing extradition to the U.S. to face trial for hacking military networks in search of alien secrets.

District Judge Purdy’s ruling (via Press Association): “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 judgment, permit one in the USA. I reject all challenges advanced to this request. No bars or other challenge being raised or found, I send the case to the Secretary of State.”

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