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

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

    Just within the last hour and is pathetic.

  • 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 Magada ( 741361 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:13PM (#38686988) Journal

    The first and most difficult step in ending an abusive relationship is realizing that you can just walk away.

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:15PM (#38687006) Homepage Journal
    capitalism happened. power of money transcends borders.
  • by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:21PM (#38687104)
    Now you know why many small countries are trying to build nukes. They need protection against a certain global abuser.
  • by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:22PM (#38687116)
    Write to your Congressman urging them to stop this. It's absolutely ridiculous that the US is going after this guy for sharing links. If the British courts found nothing to press charges then why is the US wasting money pursuing this, and we all know it's at the behest of the MPAA, RIAA or whomever. It's stupid to say the least. Here's an idea, put his name on a list and grab him if he ever tries to enter the country. If he never does then he never does, but hell. Part of me would like to see this play out and play out in his favor, he gets extradited, lengthy trial, he gets acquitted. Tax dollars wasted, but the bright side of that scenario would be there would be legal precedent for the next person.
  • 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 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 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 Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:32PM (#38687286)
    Exactly. The UK should just walk away from this nonsense. This seems like a perfect reason to present for withdrawing from the one sided extradition treaty. The corruption is so blatant on the US side, it should be a very popular move with UK citizens.
  • 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 Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:39PM (#38687410)

    It's worth keeping in mind that this decision was made in a Magistrates' Court. That is basically the lowest court in England: as the name suggests, most of the decisions are reached by magistrates, who are lay people offering their services rather than legally trained judges, and do not involve a jury. The penalties that can be handed down in such courts are also typically very limited compared to a Crown Court (to which more serious cases can be referred if the magistrates consider it necessary for the interests of justice because they cannot impose a sufficient penalty themselves).

    It sounds like this wasn't a typical case for such a court, but the implication is still that this is only the first step down a long road. I imagine there are several rounds of appeals to go through before the guy in question is in any danger of actually leaving British soil. Those will involve a lot more people who are legally trained and who can spot the obvious (you would think) implication of allowing someone to be extradited for allegedly breaking a US law on British soil but not, apparently, a British one.

  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:44PM (#38687506)

    He did not infringe the copyrights of the owner of the medias he had been linking too, as he himself didn't make any copy of them. Is there a law against this in the UK ?

    Courts of law and judges in particular are not algorithms that can be beaten by finding an edge case to exploit. I see this fallacy on Slashdot time and time again. They consider the intent of the law as well as the wording. If you read the ruling you will see that this was taken into account - the judge considered the intent of Parliament when writing the law. He also considered the meaning of the phrase "make available" in the context of a different part of the law and concluded that O'Dwyer was doing so when common sense ("plain reading") is applied.

  • by WOOFYGOOFY ( 1334993 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:44PM (#38687510)

    I appreciate the importance of copyright as the *right* level of IP protection, in contrast to patents

    But the actions of the RIAA and all the rest are so mean spirited and personal even I am going to stop going to movies and buying RIAA music in protest

    Sorry, but it seems to me you have a value / price problem, not a piracy problem.

    You need to put your price and value proposition at a point where people are less inclined to steal .

    People take things that they're barely interested in just to have them, then someone has something they didn't pay for - I get it.

    But a business's concern is with making money from their product by meeting the market where it wants to be. If you're doing that, the people who casually rip second quality copies of stuff they're barely interested in are not a real problem.

    No market is perfectly efficient. There's a low level drag coming form somewhere at all times- from bad legislation, from their own employees productivity , from dishonest middlemen, from a million different places.

    By the same token, businesses get huge boosts from employees who have brilliant flashes of creativity and productivity, long-term-thinking lawmakers, new innovations in the distribution chain and a million other synergies the companies themselves expended nothing to obtain.

    So just step back from your time-wasitng, money-wasting abacus on which you're keeping track of all the injustices and slights you think randomo people are dishing out to you and get back to doing the hard work of figuring out what the market is trying to tell you.

    Here's a hint- 16.99-18.99 for a fucking CD is too much money. And that's why I buy all mine used online.

    Here's another hint. 10-15 bucks to see a movie is too much, and that's why I go see one with my family three or four times a year, if that.

    That is, I used to do that. This year, no more movies.

    Sorry but you've got to realize that trying to kill the messenger and hanging the pickpockets is not a way to equitable and prosperous society.

    The way to a society in which people buy music and see movies is by increasing your value proposition to those people so they want to buy your product.

    People LOVE to buy and own things; acquisition possession and pride of ownership are an inherent part of the human character.

    HOW could you have fucked that up:????

  • 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 []

  • 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 TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:50PM (#38687640)

    look, how many times do we have to go thru this.

    'writing to your congressman' is an exercise in 2 things:

    - getting your name on a 'watch list' of some kind, at some level
    - wasting your time

    unless writing the letter also includes a healthy sized check, your letter is less than useless. don't people KNOW this by now?

    the connection between the people and the law-creating class is cut. has been cut for decades (maybe even a century or more, in fact). why we keep teaching this myth is beyond me. oh right, its in the law-creating class' *best interest* to keep this myth going. keeps people under the illusion that they have some say in their government.

    writing to congress does no good. voting does no good as all parties want this kind of power. you won't get fixes from within the system, that's what I'm saying. to expect the system to fix itself is beyond absurd.

  • 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...
  • 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 WOOFYGOOFY ( 1334993 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @02:02PM (#38688736)

    Yeah they may in fact want to enslave everyone or at least get all our money or whatever it is that drives these types to such extreme measures but no one is going to facilitate that.

    Don't copy their crap. Do something else. Make your own crap. Download Creative Commons crap. Support artists who aren't down with the RIAA.

    They don't have any power if enough people stop don't buying their shit. Stop liking their shit more than you like justice. Get involved with other people online who create stuff outside of this greedy octopus.

    THAT is what REALLY keeps them up at night. People just walking away.

  • by tqk ( 413719 ) <> on Friday January 13, 2012 @02:15PM (#38688992)

    Historians of the future are going to have a field day with present day USA. Hollywood, that dinky little movie making town, part of the city of Los Angeles, bought the US gov't to the point Hollywood could compel the extradition of web link posters from England, its former masters?!? What's next, the moon really is made of cheese? I thought 20th Century Prohibition was a stretch, but this is truly audacious.

    I think that the framers of the Constitution should have spent less time worrying about the power of gov't, and a lot more on the power of lawyers.

    USA: I commend your restraint. That you can watch this batshit craziness go on and still not implode is damned near amazing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @02:22PM (#38689136)

    Sorry, but it seems to me you have a value / price problem, not a piracy problem.

    That may be true, but they also have to recognize the fact that there are always going to be people for whom there is no reasonable value/price ratio they are willing to pay--and simply ignore them because they are an entirely lost cause. It may be who they are or it may be a transient circumstance that will change in the future; if it's the latter, these companies should want to ensure that when circumstances change, these people return as customers. The people who never were and never will be customers aren't worth the resources.

    As a simple example, me without a job: Pirated things. Me with a job, have not pirated anything since that point; just got through spending a bit over $100 during the Steam holiday sales; bought Battlefield 3 (even though I don't particularly like the franchise!) on Black Friday or Cyber Monday or one of those just because the price was good; bought MW3, Skyrim and SW:TOR; plus a handful of purchases on sites like Vudu that don't amount to too much. That's somewhere in the vicinity of $250 since the beginning of November (so 2.5 months, roughly).

    Unemployed Me wasn't going to pay for anything. What money I did have was needed to pay for bills and I could not point my finger to a time where I would have a job again, so I wasn't going to appropriate any of that money to games, movies or music. Employed Me is what I would have to assume they consider to be a very good customer.

    They could punish Unemployed Me with a lawsuit. I wouldn't be able to pay it, meaning doing so would earn them $0 and cost them whatever their lawyers charge. What's more, it would very likely have cost them that future income -- I am not inclined to do business with a company who just sued me. Worst case, I would make sure to buy everything used so they don't see a dime of it. I'd have to forego things like MW3 I guess, since multiplayer was the crux of it, but Skyrim would still be an option. It would be a small price to pay (and, hm, let's see: 100 hours in Skyrim versus about 13 in MW3 -- am I missing out that much?).

    Now granted, there is still room to improve even for Employed Me, as you rightly point out. Music is still overpriced. So are video games, particularly with as many as I end up not liking (including ones in series' that I have previously liked; what were you thinking, Dragon Age 2?!). I have an impulse buy range for games <$10, with a slightly more stringent buy range <$20. Anything else has to be something I am deliberately looking forward to, which mostly means sequels to games I enjoyed. If they brought their prices down, I'm sure I would end up spending more money overall even at times when I am spending. They don't want to consider that, of course. For some reason they're willing to take a 33% chance of getting $60 instead of a 100% chance of getting $20, hoping to play the chance lottery and win the jackpot. It wouldn't stamp out piracy, by any means, but it would certainly reduce it. Piracy is a supply/demand problem like any other.

    Instead, they would rather litigate their "lost sale," as if that is ever going to bring people back to being their customer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @03:01PM (#38689750)

    Just who is this "law-creating class" of whom you speak (they apparently aren't people)?

    Your whole post is a cop-out. Everything is blamed on "the man", "the system", "the law-creating class". Well, these people are put in place by our votes, and their counterparts in business are made wealthy by our purchases.

    Now, I'm not so naive as to believe that our politicians spend their time studying "The Federalist", Montesquieu, Locke, and Mill so they can become the most perfect expression of representative government possible. They spend their time trying to get re-elected. And a single letter to a congressman won't do anything, but a large number of such letters, accompanied by a substantial drop in the polls, will most definitely get their attention.

    The problem isn't politicians per se. It is apathy and ignorance on the part of the public. If people cared about issues like this like they cared about their local sports team, the politicians would act accordingly, because otherwise they would lose their jobs.

  • by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @04:06PM (#38690688)

    That you can watch this batshit craziness go on and still not implode is damned near amazing.

    Just wait another 5 years.

    The IP war in the U.S. and other first world countries is this generation's equivalent to the space race of the former U.S.S.R. and (much of) the second world.

  • by Man On Pink Corner ( 1089867 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @05:21PM (#38691582)

    I think that the framers of the Constitution should have spent less time worrying about the power of gov't, and a lot more on the power of lawyers.

    The framers did a good job in many respects, but they left a huge bug in the system of checks and balances: there is no penalty for legislators who propose and pass laws that are later declared unconstitutional. People like the SOPA/PIPA sponsors have no reason not to keep throwing crap at the wall, knowing that eventually outrage fatigue will set in and something will stick.

    What's needed is to amend the Constitution to provide a way to slam the Overton Window shut on our legislators' fingers. If there were any sort of professional or personal sanction involved in authoring an unconstitutional bill, things would change in a hurry. (They might actually read what they're voting on, for one thing.)

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken