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US Government Seeks Extradition of UK Student For File-Sharing 409

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-can't-stand-the-heat-don't-link-to-the-kitchen dept.
Gimble writes "The BBC reports that UK student Richard O'Dwyer has lost a legal battle to block his extradition to the U.S., where he faces copyright infringement charges for running a file sharing site (ruling). O'Dwyer operated the site 'TV-Shack' from 2007 until 2010, which didn't offer any files itself, but posted links to streams and files hosted elsewhere. O'Dwyer was first arrested in June last year by British police acting on information from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The domestic investigation was subsequently dropped, but Mr. O'Dwyer was re-arrested in May on an extradition warrant to face charges in America."
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US Government Seeks Extradition of UK Student For File-Sharing

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  • by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolus.gmail@com> on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:57AM (#38686708) Homepage Journal
    A natural person extradited to the US, through the indirect urging and lobbying of the "media" industry. 'tis sad, 'tis sad... what have we become ?
    • by alphatel (1450715) * on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:59AM (#38686742)
      Next up: Extradition because you violated a website's policies.
      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:38PM (#38687392)

        your honor, the defendant was accused of blocking banner ads. I see full punishment. this crime can't go unpunished.

        our client paid good money to have those forced on the defendant. our client was defined its god given right to advertise and annoy.

        I seek full damages on this case, your honor. (check the suitcase to your left; yes, that's the one you can take home with you.)

        thanks for your consideration. oh, you're welcome, too. (see you on the green next wednesday?)

      • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:47PM (#38687588)

        Next up: Extradition because you violated a website's policies.

        Sadly, that's a possibility [slashdot.org]

    • by fishbowl (7759)

      "what have we become ?"

      Nations who enter into treaties with one another and then abide by the terms of those treaties?

      • by Magada (741361) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:11PM (#38686960) Journal

        It's funny you should mention that.

        The entire framework of diplomacy and international relations is predicated on the principle of sovereignty, which is being joyously trampled here.

        It just means that the UK is not a real country, but rather a protectorate or colony of the US. Here's to hoping the Scots wake up and head for the exit this time around.

        • by Magada (741361) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:22PM (#38687114) Journal

          I don't usually reply to my own comments, but I realized I got distracted and forgot to present my argument. Here it is:
          The extradition arrangement is not reciprocal.

          • by Xest (935314) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:48PM (#38687602)

            The issue is that "technically" it's reciprocal, a judge examining the treaty recently acknowledged this.

            The problem arises that in practice (and the judge just looked at theory, not practice, which is where he went wrong), when the US thinks a UK extradition request stinks they tell us to fuck off and we say "Oh, alright then", but when the US send us a request that stinks we're like "Oh, please do, take him!"

            The problem isn't so much legal, or technical, it's that US courts tend to be far more patriotic, in protecting US citizens and interests - they ignore the fact the treaty is stupidly unfair for the average joe who can get extradited at will, and protect American interests- they ignore the terms of the agreement.

            The issue in the UK, and many European courts in general is that we're too honourable for our own good, our judges stick to the letter of the agreement, when the Americans don't. This can sometimes be a good thing- look at the Oink case for example, and the fact even this guy wasn't charged in the UK - because under British law, such linking isn't actually illegal, but in other cases like this, where adhering to the letter of the law means following a stupid extradition treaty, it's obviously terrible. I'd argue the fundamental problem is that the treaty makes it too easy to extradite from either side of the Atlantic, but that the US has fixed this by simply ignoring the exact lettering of the treaty when it suits.

            One final point of course is that in the UK we're not stupid enough to waste time extraditing someone like Gary McKinnon or this guy in the first place, we could probably try the same, hence another reason why the extradition treaty looks so one way, is because the US wants to extradite people for more trivial things where we wouldn't bother precisely because we do think it's disproportionate. Again though, the fundamental problem here is that the treaty is too lax in general, not that it's inherently weighted in favour of one country or the other.

            So effectively we're left two choices - pull out of the treaty or rewrite it putting a limit on the seriousness of the crimes (i.e. only murders, rapes, that sort of thing), or start being as lame as America, extraditing people for the silliest little things, like creating file sharing link sites, and then hold them to the treaty when they try and ignore it. I think pulling out is the best option regardless.

            • by Magada (741361)

              The issue is that "technically" it's reciprocal, a judge examining the treaty recently acknowledged this.

              Citation needed, I do believe.

              The problem isn't so much legal, or technical, it's that US courts tend to be far more patriotic, in protecting US citizens and interests - they ignore the fact the treaty is stupidly unfair for the average joe who can get extradited at will, and protect American interests- they ignore the terms of the agreement.

              If this has happened even once, it is sufficient grounds for the UK to pull out of the treaty. Again, a citation would be nice.

            • US courts tend to be far more patriotic, in protecting US citizens and interests - ... - they ignore the terms of the agreement.

              So in other words US courts are breaking US law. Hmmm... can you take a court to court? More seriously though I'd be concerned about this - yes this is a stupid treaty but if your legal system can decide which laws they want to enforce then your government has really been replaced by judges and the careful balance between the legislative, executive and judicial branches which your founding fathers set up is way out of alignment.

            • by sjames (1099)

              I'd say it's a terrible treaty. Each of us is subject to quite enough laws in our own country. Enough that we can't know them all, we just have to do whatever feels right and hope that's what the law says. That's bad enough in itself. Far worse if you can be boxed up and shipped overseas to a country you've never been to before to stand trial in a legal system you know little about for doing something that was perfectly legal where you live.

              I would think at a minimum the treaty should be limited to crimes c

          • by Cederic (9623)

            The reciprocality is not the biggest issue here.

            A UK citizen being prosecuted for failing to comply with another country's laws while in the UK is the issue.

            As I suggested to my MP, next we'll have British citizens being extradited for insulting the King of Thailand or supporting Falun Gong.

            The law needs clarifying, and that clarification has to limit the exposure of the British people to British law, not to every stupid fucking law every stupid fucking country on the planet decides to proclaim.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:16PM (#38687032)

        There's a wider issue here because of the hugely lopsided extradition treaty that was signed by Blair and which has been lambasted by most human rights organisations. There has been no need to *prove* anything to get the extradition beyond the fact the USA justice wants him there. For some strange reason the same favour wasn't granted to us in our extradition of American citizens who still have their full legal protections. The same treaty has meant one man has been held without trial for more than 7 years despite having committed no offence in the UK...(although his views were abhorrent they weren't illegal, something the USA used to understand)

        • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:29PM (#38687220)

          It looks like this is actually worse than a treaty merely being one-sided in the requirements for proof. This is about someone who committed acts in the UK that were not illegal in the UK (let us assume, given that his equipment was taken by British police in November 2010 but no criminal charges followed). His actions might have been illegal in the US if they had been committed in the US, but as far as I can tell, they were not and this all happened entirely in the UK. But the US is apparently trying (and currently succeeding) to get him extradited anyway.

          Extradition is supposed to be about not letting a criminal flee to another jurisdiction to escape justice. It is not supposed to be about making someone in one country guilty of any offence they commit according to the law in any other country with which an extradition treaty exists.

          Just to be clear, I am utterly lacking in sympathy for this guy. I don't for an instant believe he was either ignorant of copyright law or doing this purely out of the kindness of his heart, and if he was making a significant amount of money off the back of helping people to break the law then throw the whole damn book at him. But it should be our book if he did this in our country. The legal principle that anyone can be extradited from a country when their actions committed in that country were not against the law in that country is very, very dangerous.

          • by khipu (2511498)

            All true. Just remember to take those arguments to UK politicians, since they are responsible for accepting this treaty. You can't blame the US for proposing a treaty that seems to favor it, and you can't blame the US for the UK signing onto it. In fact, I think the UK does get short-term value out of the one-sidedness of the treaty (political and legal convenience). Whether it's legally a good idea is another question.

        • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:52PM (#38687672)

          hugely lopsided extradition treaty that was signed by Blair

          In Blair's defense, he REALLY wanted that Snausage treat.

  • by NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:59AM (#38686746) Homepage

    Just within the last hour and is pathetic.

    • Technically this was just one step in the extradition process - the case now goes to the Home Secretary for a decision, then the whole thing can be appealed to the High Court. This case probably won't be over for months, if not years.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The DPP Director of Public Prosecution authorized this. Granted your comment is quite valid and there was a Parliamentary debate over cutting ties with the UK USA extradition treaty signed up by Bush and Blair.

        The last I heard CI5 arrested this chap and he is now in custody without charge.

        Nonetheless he is still being held in detention against his will. I sincerely hope that clarifies some questions of some people and is enlightening.

        Love
        nsn

         

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:06PM (#38686856)

    Boycott. Stop watching, stop buying, stop feeding these asshole media publishers. If you must buy, buy used.

    • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorpNO@SPAMGmail.com> on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:33PM (#38687302) Homepage Journal

      Boycott. Stop watching, stop buying, stop feeding these asshole media publishers. If you must buy, buy used.

      Actually, that's the right approach to take. You don't have the right to copyrighted stuff. What you do have the right to do is to not watch or listen. That's the proper approach. Stop watching the shows, stop listening to the music. Go find stuff that fits your idealism.

      • by khipu (2511498)

        The problem with that argument is that many of these media publishers are manipulating the political system to retain copyright to content that ought to be in the public domain.

        So, I would modify the principled stance: think about what you think ought to be copyrighted and respect those copyrights. Respecting unjust copyrights may be legally prudent, but certainly isn't a principled or moral position.

      • by Fallingcow (213461) on Friday January 13, 2012 @01:36PM (#38688380) Homepage

        You don't have the right to copyrighted stuff.

        Says you.

        AFAI am concerned anything older than a decade or so is fair game.

        I don't legally have permission to share those things freely, but I don't consider it ethically wrong to do so. Quite the opposite, actually; if not for piracy there's a ton of stuff from as recently as the 90s that would be lost forever or hopelessly hard to find already.

        With the law so broken as to be no useful guide, I pay when I feel like I ought to and I don't when I don't; I'm not sure what else one can be expected to do. You only live once, and I'm not going to cut myself off from our shared cultural works just because media companies have been allowed to gain too much power and to write absurd laws. I could follow the law to the letter and boycott all big-corporation-owned media made since 1917, but I'd be doing far more harm to myself than to the media companies.

        • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

          The only way to fight is civil disobedience. I do not recognize the copyright extension as constitutional, and I do not follow it. "Life of the author" should not be a factor in any temporary monopoly, only a specific number of years for everyone. Anything over 28 years is fair game to me. This covers the original 14+14 years from 1790 without having to verify a renewal, and the updated 28 years from the first extension in 1831.

          I try to spread the word as often as possible. Only if we continue to asser

  • by hydertech (122031) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:07PM (#38686894) Homepage

    who had just engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the pension plans of half of the country. He wouldn't be charged much less extradited. What a country!

  • by Spottywot (1910658) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:09PM (#38686932)
    More like an abusive one, the American government clearly thinks that we are weak and treat us as such. Maybe they're right. *sigh*
  • How is this legal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZorinLynx (31751) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:10PM (#38686948) Homepage

    How can they legally extradite him, when he didn't commit a crime IN the US? He's not even a US citizen and isn't subject to US law!

    WTF happened to the concept of jurisdiction? Why should the US be able to enforce its laws in the UK? This sets a VERY bad precedent; what if country A has some really stupid law that country B doesn't, and someone in country B breaks it? Should they be extradited to country A?

    What's next; extraditing people to China for speaking badly of the communist regime over there?

    • by unity100 (970058) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:15PM (#38687006) Homepage Journal
      capitalism happened. power of money transcends borders.
      • by byrnespd (531460) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:29PM (#38687236)
        Blaming capitalism is a common misconception. The US has arguable NOT been capitalist for the better part of the last century. We have changed to a corporation run government. In a free market capitalist society, corporations would have no power over government policy. The government sets up and maintains courts of law to enforce any disputes, or broken laws, etc.. between the people and the free market (Desirable quality, just go watch Milton Friedman for a bit).. We live in a society where corporate lobbying essentially sets up regulation and law and leverages the government to do its bidding (need examples, how about DMCA, SOPA, the leaked threats to trade blacklist Spain if they don't adopt a SOPA esque law policy, just to name a few recent ones, but if I took the time to dig deeper I could certainly increase the size of this post by orders of magnitude). Anyway, I don't want to go on and on about the true workings of a capitalist/free market society, I just wanted to point out a few HUGE misconceptions about blaming capitalism and free markets when in fact we are not really running our system that way.
        • by pjabardo (977600) on Friday January 13, 2012 @01:48PM (#38688524)
          Before the end of the Soviet Union, when people criticized Communism it was common for left wingers to argue that no communist country had real socialism (I made this observation more than once...). There were several replies, one of them was what is real socialism if it doesn't exist and until it does it is only a theoretical construct. Another reply was that the existing communist regimes were probably the only outcome possible from trying to implement "real socialism".

          Today I believe that both replies have merit and here you come making the same observations for the other side so I will give you the same reply:

          (1) How do you what "real capitalism" is if it doesn't exist? For me it is only a theoretical construct that doesn't hold water in the real world.
          (2) Why do you think what is happening today in the US (and the whole world actually) isn't the logical outcome of attempting to implement "real capitalism"? "Real capitalism" has had several powerful proponents for more than 2 centuries and often in government and here we are...
        • Capitalism is when you have private ownership of capital (hence the name). It is completely orthogonal to democracy, and is only vaguely related to free markets.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:22PM (#38687120)

      Because the U.K signed a very bad and very lopsided agreement with the U.S, The Extradition Act of 2003 witch implements the US-UK Extradition Treaty of the same years. It was controversial for exactly this, it allows the U.S extradite U.K citizens for infractions of U.S law even when that offense occurred outside the U.S with no ability for U.K to do the same to citizens. What's worse the standard of proof in extradition cases under this act is reasonable suspicion.

    • How can they legally extradite him, when he didn't commit a crime IN the US? ... WTF happened to the concept of jurisdiction? Why should the US be able to enforce its laws in the UK?

      Jurisdiction has always been quite a flimsy issue; merely needing some sort of link between the alleged offence and the country. In this case the US are arguing that some of the TVShack users and advertisers are based in the US, and as they're sort co-conspirators/accessories to the crime, that brings it within the US's jurisdiction. As strange and counter-intuitive as it may seem, this sort of thing isn't all that rare; a good example being if someone in country A murders a person from country B in country

    • by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:34PM (#38687326)

      WTF happened to the concept of jurisdiction? Why should the US be able to enforce its laws in the UK? This sets a VERY bad precedent; what if country A has some really stupid law that country B doesn't, and someone in country B breaks it? Should they be extradited to country A?

      In German law, you would be extradited to the USA if: 1. You did something that would be a crime according to German law. 2. The crime was committed in the USA, and according to German law a crime is committed at the place where it has an effect (like sending a letter bomb from Germany that explodes in New York would be a crime committed in the USA). 3. There must be enough evidence that according to a German prosecutor, it would go to court if it happened in Germany. Not enough evidence to convict, but enough to prosecute. 4. There must be a guarantee of a fair trial, and no cruel or unusual punishment. That means in case of murder, the court would have to guarantee that there is no death penalty. For small offences, the trauma of being extradited and having to stand trial in a foreign country could already be considered too much punishment.

      There must also be a guarantee that you cannot be prosecuted for anything other than the things that you were extradited for. Which means police often delays asking for an extradition of you are suspected of having committed multiple crimes unless they have enough evidence for each crime.

      • by Cyberax (705495) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:46PM (#38687550)

        I really really like Russian extradition law. It's VERY simple:

        "Russian citizens can not be extradited for any offences"

        If a Russian citizen commits a crime in a foreign jurisdiction then it will be prosecuted in Russia. With some special provisions for evidence and witness testimonials.

        • by Magada (741361)

          Well, the downside is that if some Russian does something illegal in Russia and flees, there are very many places where he can go and be immediately safe from (Russian) prosecution.

          The Russian gov't, being authoritarian in nature, sees this as a small price to pay for the right to treat their own citizens and residents as they damn well please. Other governments, not so much.

          I think extradition is good, personally, as long as the principle of reciprocity is observed and sovereignty is not disregarded.

    • by houghi (78078) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:46PM (#38687566)

      Extra fun part is that it is a one way street. Try getting some US military who has committed a crime in another country (while actually being there) extradited to said country.

      And that is when the crime is committed in that country with death as a result.

      Some animals are more equal then others.

  • The item stated that in order for extradition to be considered, O'Dwyer had to have been accused of committing a crime that was illegal in both the UK and the USA. As far as I am aware, no crime was committed in the UK, which is why the criminal investigation was originally dropped.

    • by Grumbleduke (789126) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:31PM (#38687270) Journal

      The item stated that in order for extradition to be considered, O'Dwyer had to have been accused of committing a crime that was illegal in both the UK and the USA. As far as I am aware, no crime was committed in the UK, which is why the criminal investigation was originally dropped.

      This was one of the main challenges to the extradition (section 7 in the ruling, iirc) - the judge disagreed, and held that what he did probably was illegal in the UK. However, that may prove to be a good point to appeal on.

  • by orphiuchus (1146483) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:27PM (#38687176)

    Its funny when you think about it. The media moguls pushing these laws are the very people who's vast empires are supposed to be helping protect us from tyranny via the free press.

    It was fun while it lasted I guess. At this point anyone running for office who would fix this mess is either demonized by the media, or just outright ignored.

  • by AccUser (191555) <mhg@taose.IIIco.uk minus threevowels> on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:28PM (#38687208) Homepage

    To all my fellow UK /.ers, you can write to the Home Secretary about this matter, explaining politely why this is wrong:

    Rt Hon Theresa May MP
    Home Secretary
    2 Marsham Street
    London
    SW1P 4DF

    public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

    Telephone number: 020 7035 4848

  • by Tryfen (216209) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:29PM (#38687226) Homepage

    According to the very well written judgement [judiciary.gov.uk] he can only be extradited if there is a proportional offence in the UK.

    107(2A)
    Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988:
    “A person who infringes copyright in a work by communicating the work in public
    (a) in the course of business, or
    (b) otherwise than in the course of business but to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright commits an offence if he knows or has reason to believe that, by doing so he is infringing copyright in that work.

    I think this stinks, but it seems perfectly legal.

  • by Ajehals (947354) <a.halsall@pirateparty.org.uk> on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:55PM (#38687716) Homepage Journal
    Loz Kaye &mdash; Pirate Party UK Leader:

    By supporting the baseless US extradition case against Richard O'Dwyer today at Westminster Magistrates Court the judge Judge Quentin Purdy has failed to inject the much needed shot of rationality into the insanity of the UK-US extradition arrangements we had all hoped for. The Sheffield student is accused of infringing copyright by setting up the popular UK-based website TV Shack.

    TV shack provided a catalogue of links to other sites, with no illegal material available from it at any time. As the server was based in the UK, Richard's lawyer has pointed out that there is simply no valid reason to send a young British citizen to face a court in the US.

    [...]

    This outcome is a failure on the part of our British justice system to act in a sensible and reasonable way. This case is the perfect example of what enforcing copyright is; excessive, overblown and aimed at easy targets innocent or not whilst ignoring the human.

    So, this is what protecting your copyright has come to mean. Accepting unacceptable human collateral like Richard O'Dwyer."
    http://www.reddit.com/r/unitedkingdom/comments/ofabu/tv_shack_creators_extradition_hearing_is/
  • Trial by peers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Barrinmw (1791848) on Friday January 13, 2012 @01:11PM (#38687972)
    How can he have a trial by his peers? All his peers are in Britain...
  • BBC Audio interview (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sapgau (413511) on Friday January 13, 2012 @01:25PM (#38688214) Journal

    An earlier interview with him on BBC
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16546471 [bbc.co.uk]

  • O Canada! (Score:4, Informative)

    by DarthVain (724186) on Friday January 13, 2012 @05:09PM (#38691442)

    Not to brag about sanity, but up here in Canada we just had a court decision in the last year about the legality of suing someone for linking something.

    The short version is that its not.

    It might be going to appeal, but currently sanity is holding out against the powers of stupid.

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