Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How The US Gov't's Bogus Extradition Attempt Of Richard O'Dwyer Is Destroying Lives For No Reason

We've been covering the absolutely ridiculous attempt by the US government (mainly ICE and the Justice Department) to extradite former TVShack admin Richard O'Dwyer from the UK to the US to face criminal copyright charges. This is absolutely shameful for a variety of reasons, including the fact that sites quite similar to O'Dwyer's have been found to be perfectly legal in the UK, and the US appears to be using highly dubious claims in its reasoning for extradition. Even worse, the Justice Department and ICE are clamped up tight on this one, refusing to make any on-the-record comments about this attempt to take a kid, who doesn't appear to have done anything against the law, and drag him across the ocean against his will to put him on trial for criminal charges.

TorrentFreak has the (admittedly, extremely biased) thoughts from O'Dwyer's mother on the whole situation. It's really heart-breaking to think that the US government can be so actively destroying this family, despite an incredibly weak case.
As the ICE agents left they shook his hand and said “Don’t worry Richard you won’t be going to America”. Actually “going to America” had never entered Richard’s head! The same day Richard closed down the website himself.

On attending with Richard to answer bail in May this year when we expected he would either be charged or questioned further, he was told by the Police that the criminal investigation in the UK had been dropped. He was then told that he was going to be rearrested as they now had a Warrant for his Extradition to the US!


I am most concerned about Richard being in jail in America with no access to his family or friends. Given the current economic climate along with the distance it would not be feasible for anyone to be able to visit him if he were in jail in the US. The idea of having to spend around £1500 or more in air fares and hotels etc. in order to visit my son for one hour in a US jail is ridiculous and prohibitive. This is in total breach of his Human Rights, rights which other non – British subjects are afforded in the UK even some who have allegedly committed serious crimes


From a personal perspective this trauma has totally taken over my life. I hold a responsible senior position as a Specialist Nurse for Terminally ill children. My job requires me to advise other professionals and parents regarding strong medications for children.

I need to concentrate on my job and to be able to function at a high level. Since this nightmare came into our family I have been unable to work due to being off sick due to the stress. My concentration and level of functioning have been greatly affected to the degree that I would not be safe to do my job.
You really should read the whole thing.

And, really, who is this helping? At all? TVShack didn't host any of the content. It's still very much out there, and tons of others are linking to that very same content, much of which you can find with a simple Google search. So destroying this family doesn't stop or even slow down the infringement. It does raise serious questions about the US/UK extradition procedures, which seem to (contrary to the official claims) totally ignore the fact that similar sites have been found legal in the UK already.

When this case first came to light, I reached out to folks at both the Justice Department and Homeland Security to get comments, and both refused, pointing me only to press releases about domain seizures. Frankly, anyone involved in this case should be sickened and ashamed of themselves right now. This is not some criminal mastermind. This was a kid who built a simple website, which didn't host any infringing content, and is now being railroaded and destroyed by a system because a few folks in Hollywood say so. The fact that ICE now doesn't even try to hide the fact that it's doing this at the behest of a few entertainment industry giants, who don't want to adapt to the changing marketplace, just makes the whole thing even more disgusting.

This has nothing to do with protecting "rightsholders." Such rightsholders could go after those uploading content themselves if they wanted to. This seems to be a case where the existing administration is trying to destroy this family for no good reason at all, other than Hollywood told them to do it. Sickening.

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