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back to article UK student faces extradition to US after piracy case ruling

A 23-year-old student is facing extradition to the US, and possibly five years in a federal prison, after the British courts ruled he should face charges of copyright infringement for linking to websites hosting pirated content. Richard O’Dwyer, a computer science student at Sheffield Hallam University who had never even left …

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AND NO ONE THOUGHT THIS....

would happen. It won't be long before your Gran gets an extradition order against her for not password protecting her WiFi.

I said this would happen months ago and it has.

And they call it the 'land of the free'... Yeah right!

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WTF?

It seems to me there is a gulf of difference between hosting infringing material and telling people where to find it.

Having a bomb is a tad different than telling someone where to find a book on how to build one.

Google does pretty much the same thing, it links to copyrighted material left and right. All search engines do. What's so special about this kid, and who in the hell thinks a webpage full of links is actually a crime in and of itself?

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>>"Google does pretty much the same thing, it links to copyrighted material left and right."

Well, it has links to all kinds of things, but links to copyrighted material aren't its main business and it wouldn't obviously be worse off without them, nor, as far as I know, does it go out of its way to acquire those links.

To the extent that there are similarities, there are also significant differences, and it would be faulty logic to say that simply because both sites have links on, they must legally be precisely equal.

It's a bit like the situation where someone runs a car boot sale where some dodgy stuff is sold, even if they're not doing the selling.

At one end of the spectrum, someone can't easily police every single item for sale, but there does come a point where the proportion of dodgy goods is so high that the operator was substantially and knowingly profiting from their sale to an extent where their behaviour was definitely less moral, and possibly less legal than that of an average sale organiser.

Even if where that point is or (should be) might be a matter of opinion, it's not viable to pretend that 'similarity' =='no difference'.

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Re: LarsG

Quote

And they call it the 'land of the free'... Yeah right!

you are obviously forgetting that the

USofA is Free to do whatever it wants everywhere in the world. You are in Timbucktu and you break a law that is valid in Hicksville, Georgia and the US can now try to get you sent to Hicksville to face 50+Years one every count of farting in public.

The moral is, don't even think about breaking a US law anywhere in the world. You might just end up on a US Pokey for the rest of your natural life.

Getting tried is the easy way out. Pres Obama just signed a law that allows the Feds to imprison you indefinentely without trial or legal representation. Gitmo+++++

Black Chopper naturally.

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NEVER A TRUER WORD SAID....

the fact that OUR courts doff their caps to them and that not one of our Judges had made a stand against the unfairness just beggers belief.

Years ago we had an independent judiciary with enough of the top judges prepared to,stick their necks out and be controversial.

Now they do as they are told, probably to protect their position and pensions. But the real culprits are those that signed this treaty in the first place.

When you consider that US human rights groups see the treaty as one sided and unfair you have to wonder.

Time to give the Churchillian salute of two fingers to them.

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Anonymous Coward

This poor kid is extremely unlucky. He should never go outside for fear of being struck by lightening.

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Anonymous Coward

The real moral is "Don't try to hurt a US company's profits"

@Steve Davies 3

"The moral is, don't even think about breaking a US law anywhere in the world. You might just end up on a US Pokey for the rest of your natural life."

No. The moral is don't let a large US company perceive that you hurt their profits.

They really throw their toys out of the pram at the thought that a British person or company can compete with them on a large scale.

You can watch all sorts of copyrighted material on YouTube without paying, and they are actually hosting it. Of course it's a US company... I bet a UK company couldn't get away with that.

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Anonymous Coward

if our own country refuses to protect us

Then who will?

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Anonymous Coward

re: if our own country refuses to protect us

I take your and others' points about the imbalance in the extradition treaty, but, matters of due process aside (which are important), doesn't it nonetheless discredit our justice system if it shields people from the legimitate consequences of their destructive and immoral actions? Put another way, how is it legitimate that our justice system should shield people from proper justice?

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@LarsG

"Years ago we had an independent judiciary with enough of the top judges prepared to,stick their necks out and be controversial." That was before Blair and his chums got rid of the office of Lord Chancellor, created the Ministry of Justice, and changed the Judicial Bench of the House of Lords into the Supreme Court. Anyone with any knowledge could see that we would end up with an anaemic judiciary with political intentions from that point forward.

This is genuinely disproportionate - sending someone to a foreign country to be tried for a measly $250k that might or might not have reached some company's pockets, FFS? The judge should be utterly ashamed (though s/he is at the bottom of the pile, and has granted the right to appeal to a higher court, so is possibly hoping for a get-out from the decision).

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WTF?

"Proper justice"???

Just because something might be a criminal offence in the US does not make it a criminal offence anywhere else in the world. What happened in this case, in this country, was, at best, a breach of civil law and is thus *not* a justification for extradition.

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Anonymous Coward

re "Proper justice"???

Graham, please try to draw a distinction between what is extremely destructive and morally atrocious, and that which is or isn't criminally prohibited in the UK. I know it must be hard, but just stretch that brain. Justice in legal terms, describes, mainly, the point where ideas of law and social necessity overlap; it is not the same thing as criminal law.

Economic crimes - or large-scale wrongs which cross borders - are likely recognised by intergovernmental treaty or diplomatic protocol.

You yourself concede in the UK there would be a case were a civil suit filed against this person. Do you really think our civil law entirely divergent from morality in this case, from justice, such that a foreign criminal case made on the basis of huge economic harm - arguably a very serious wrong and major harm needing deterrence - would be unjustified? Would it not send the correct signal about what should occur to those who destroy industries which use digital intellectual property? Or do you think the English legal system should provide wreckers with a figleaf?

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"This poor kid is extremely unlucky."

"This poor kid is extremely unlucky."

Unlucky for being so stupid. Because this is exactly what happens to recidivists. He earned plenty of money from the first site, and it was shut down. At that point he plainly knew that there could be legal consequences to his actions. So when he put up the second site, he was taking a real risk. But, alas, he was too stupid to realize this. Or too greedy. Or both.

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"Google does pretty much the same thing"

Not really. Their search engine runs an algorithm whereas our friend had compiled a list of links by hand, which is more like YouTube, except that the latter actually hosts the material.

There's an obvious similarity in both being funded by advertising, at least if you can put aside the scale of Google's operation.

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If he handcrafted the links; surely that is his work and therefore his copyright? The US is using his work without permission; and for a use that he didn't authorise (ie, prosecuting him). Two can play at that game, surely?

The judge should be tried for treason and the verdict overturned immediately by someone not barkingly insane.

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Anonymous Coward

you miss the point

"Put another way, how is it legitimate that our justice system should shield people from proper justice?" -- It's not. US authorities, citizens and companies are free to bring their claims forward to the British justice system, and get the alleged offender trialled here.

Certainly it cannot be right that a (poorly designed) treaty, which was intended to deal with terrorists, is abused in any possible way the US authorities see fit.

Sure, given the global nature of the internet, it's the easiest way to use international treaties to enforce one country's law, if the offender lives in another country. But it's not the right way.

I'm not taking side of the guy in question here. He did earn money by knowingly publishing links to illegal content, or that's at least what he's being charged for. I'm pretty sure that's illegal in the UK, too.

But making TV shows available is not exactly related to terrorism, unless all the programmes were about creating bombs or hijacking air planes. That is the problem here.

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Anonymous Coward

apparently they are reviewing the treaty...

The American Ambassador has already stated that it would not be good to change things or get rid of the treaty.

However is there anyone here who thinks Cameron or Clegg have the b*lls to say NO?

They will be toooooo scared of upsetting Obama the winner of a Nobel peace prize..... true, and upsetting the good old boys. Why? Because there's a lot of fiddling going on behind the scenes, I mean look how RICH Tony Blair has become. You don't get rich like that by normal means.

There's a lot of brown envelopes being passed around and the UK doesn't want it to come out that they were involved in rendition flights!

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Childcatcher

The International Court of the Internet at the Hague

At least all verbrechers will be tried and sentenced by the same standard. Oh, if you see a brown envelope with my handle on it....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: re: if our own country refuses to protect us and other idiots.

Why can't you dunces get it through your thick skulls that what he did isn't illegal here.

Would you be demanding the extradition of an off license owner for selling a 20 yr old American alcohol?

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"Well, it has links to all kinds of things, but links to copyrighted material aren't its main business and it wouldn't obviously be worse off without them, nor, as far as I know, does it go out of its way to acquire those links."

Most of the material that Google links to are subject to copyright. There may or may not be material being displayed at the network node that the node owners have the right to display/distribute/disseminate or not, or indeed both.

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@AC

"extremely destructive and morally atrocious"? "large scale wrongs"? "Huge economic harm"?? "wreckers"?! "destroy industries"?!?!

Good grief, man, try stretching *your* brain around the concept of "sense of proportion"!

Yes, I "concede" that, "in the UK there would be a case were a civil suit filed against this person", so why do those who consider themselves wronged not avail themselves of UK law and *bring* that suit here instead of using a law designed to deal with *terrorist* suspects to try to extradite him to the US to bring *criminal* charges against him?

Your ludicrous hyperbole suggest you have no idea or what "justice" actually means, or you're just some sort of shill for the MPAA/ RIAA et al.

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re: proper justice

Time was we got proper justice from our own legal system. I don't think many people consider the US system to be anything like just.

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"divergent from morality"

Yes, I really DO think US civil law is entirely divergent from morality in this case, and in many others. In fact I find it increasingly difficult to conceive of anything in US law, politics or business practices that isn't utterly, morally repugnant.

How in Hell can LINKING TO INFORMATION be a crime?

But by far the repugnant thing about this fiasco, is how such sinister and morally-inverted foreign laws can be upheld in OUR country, without even so much as a challenge.

It's time our so-called "special relationship" with the American Empire was brought to a rapid conclusion.

As for the "huge economic harm" bullshit, please explain what some US TV network "loses" by having some Brit watch a TV show that isn't even broadcast in the UK, may never even be released in the UK, and for which he will most likely pay via the TV license anyway, if it ever is.

The only "harm" here is the corruption of justice by a bunch of corporate gangsters.

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Of course they did ...

... that's why they took advantage of the 9/11 tragedy to pass this sort of legislation - not coincidental - opportunist. You have nothing to fear if you don't break the law - until they change it ...

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EVEN IF HE WINS THE EXTRADITION....

ONE day in the future he will be on holiday in some foreign country, he will end up with a needle in his a*se, think happy thoughts and wake up in an American jail somewhere. A ticket in his pocket 'first class rendition express'.

Oh I forgot, it already happens here... Keep looking over your shoulder!

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Trollface

@ Moiety

You reckon you can find a member of the UK Judiciary who is not barkingly insane?

Needles, haystacks and The Holy Grail spring to mind...

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FERGIE ex wife of HRH Andrew

Commited an illegal act by filming in a Turkish childrens home and highlighting abuses.

They want to prosecute her but have promised not go for extradition. Apparently she apologized!

It's all about who you know and what you are. Us little people would be f***ed!

One rule for them one rule for us.

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Pedantic reminder

'>>"Google does pretty much the same thing, it links to copyrighted material left and right."

'Well, it has links to all kinds of things, but links to copyrighted material aren't its main business and it wouldn't obviously be worse off without them, nor, as far as I know, does it go out of its way to acquire those links'.

That turns out not to be the case, as all material on the Web is copyright. In the case of most of it, the copyright owners are very lax (explicitly or implicitly) about enforcement, but as the law stands today in the USA (and the UK AFAIK) everything anyone writes is automatically copyright. Yet the Web is entirely based on the civilized assumption that people can see the enormous all-round benefits of freely sharing information, and will therefore refrain from invoking the lawyers.

I know what you meant by "copyrighted material", of course: material (which like all other published material is copyright) whose owners insist on squeezing out every last penny of profit from its ownership.

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We need you, Hugh Grant! ("Love, Actually")

"The American Ambassador has already stated that it would not be good to change things or get rid of the treaty".

Well, the American ambassador can go back to eating Ferrero Rocher... or whatever else he would like to do. Frankly, it's none of his bleeding business.

Everything in this world is beginning to look more and more like a simple study in celestial mechanics: it all revolves around the biggest mass, which of course is the USA. Our politicians can't even imagine not kow-towing to the White House, because that's where all the power and money and influence comes from. (Plus if they don't, the black helicopters are always waiting).

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I'm pretty sure that's illegal in the UK, too.

Nope... it is not

And the courts have said so on several occasions.

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Why don't we extradite all U.S. owners of assault rifles?

If the U.S. can extradite for something which is illegal in their jurisdiction but legal here than why can't we do likewise?

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a great example of such being

The issue and fine with goold and canadian pharmacies.

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@Ted Treen

Well it's a big case, so I was sort of hoping the budget would be found to sober one of them up for the necessary couple of hours, as an emergency measure.

Seriously District Judge Quentin Purdy needs to be investigated. To me this says nothing about any kind of justice and smacks of fat white envelopes or other benefits. OK, the student is a piss-taker; but offering a fellow citizen up for disproportionate punishment for something that isn't illegal (and definitely not criminal) doesn't match up with any definition of justice I've ever heard of.

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or how about...

we say that if you want to take him to court - you do so in this country under uk law?

seems fair to me.

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FAIL

Hmmm... would you care to provide some facts to backup your data?

Please feel free to backup your statement with some actual documentation that it is *not* illegal. What I've found is that there is quite a bit of murkiness as to it's legality but you have made a very definitive statement that it is not illegal. There is no question in your statement, so please provide some evidence that is as conclusive as you make it to be.

From what I know, there was a previous situation in the UK with the website tv-links which would seem to imply that it's not that legal in the UK.

http://www.fact-uk.org.uk/site/latest_news/October2007.htm

The site, TV Links (www.tv-links.co.uk), was providing links to illegal film content that has been camcorded from within a cinema and then uploaded to the Internet. The site additionally provided links to TV shows that were also being illegally distributed.

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Boffin

@InsaneGeek

"Please feel free to backup your statement with some actual documentation that it is *not* illegal"

Perhaps you've never heard of the expression "Presumed Innocent Unless Proven Guilty"...

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Distinguish unlawful and illegal

In the United Kingdom, the terms llegal and Unlawful do not mean the same thing at all.

Not that you would know that from reading FACT propaganda.

FACT is an industry mouthpiece. It is deliberately confusing the simple distinction between unlawful and illegal acts. It does so for the economic enrichment of its billion dollar bankrollers. Now that's what I call dishonest. You could call it a Fraud: a deliberate attempt to mislead for economic gain.

As any UK-trained lawyer would tell you, an illegal act is one which carries a criminal penalty. Infringing the copyright on a Kylie Minogue DVD is a tort, a breach of civil duty. Nothing more.

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This is absurd, why prosecute this kid when it's the advertisers who are evidently responsible for it being a profitable venture. Don't the advertisers screen the sites where their advertisements are placed? Don't they at least share a major part in the responsibility? I'm certain they knew the site was illegal, yet they still allowed their advertisements to be placed there.

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Flabbergasted!

@David Wilson

I'm truly shocked by your comments.

[Well, it has links to all kinds of things, but links to copyrighted material aren't its main business]

Yes, it is. The vast majority of content on the web is commercial, copyrighted content. Of course there are the blogs of private individuals but even most of these carry copyright notices.

[...and it wouldn't obviously be worse off without them]

Yes, it would. Most of the links to my company's web site is through google via AdWords for which I, like millions of other sites, pay. There would be no revenue if there were not links.

[ nor, as far as I know, does it go out of its way to acquire those links.]

Huh? Google IS is a search engine. The company has VAST data centers searching for content and making it available able to others. If protects its interests vigorously. In what way is this NOT going out of its way?

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@Ken Hagan

What on earth is the difference between Google's algorithm and someone doing it manually? What is an algorithm? In your view must it only be a computer program? The outcome of both processes is identical: links to copyrighted content. But one is correct and the other not.

So presumably, if the guy had written a program to find the links and display them, that would be OK? Bizarre.

Both entities make money out of creating links to copyrighted content but one is so heinous as to warrant an extradition. They other doesn't.

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@AC 14/01 16:21

>>"Certainly it cannot be right that a (poorly designed) treaty, which was intended to deal with terrorists,..."

It was designed to deal with extradition regarding anything considered serious enough to be extraditable, not specifically terrorism, and it would be simply wrong to claim that it's use for anything other than terrorism would be unjust.

As it is, it replaced a previous decades-old treaty which also had a one-year-sentence (in both countries) threshold for determining which offences were serious enough to justify extradition.

Argue this case on its merits, don't argue it based on misunderstandings of the extradition treaty - that, if anything, risks making it look like you don't think you have any better argument than a bogus one.

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@Sirius Lee

>>"I'm truly shocked by your comments."

Well, if you chose to go off on one by deliberately grabbing the wrong end of the stick regarding what I said, (which was clearly replying to someone else, using their usage of 'copyright material' in a sense which was factually incorrect but pretty clearly understandable), then I guess you must be shocked fairly easily.

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Stop

ok, fair's fair

let's extradite all americans carrying unlicenced firearms, it's a crime in uk law, they must pay for it

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While At the same time sending woman that have affairs

To be stoned to deAth by the Taliban. Wait what do you mean it doesn't work like that?

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Oh brill!

"let's extradite all americans carrying unlicenced firearms"

They'll arrive with those same firearms and *then* you will really be sorry.

: )

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@Harry

Well, that's putting the finger on the sore spot and /exactly/ where the USA shows how hypocrite they really are.

When they feel "wronged" they demand the right to extradite people, or simply grab them themselves when that "pesky law" gets in the way while "everyone knows they're guilty".

But the very moment when things get turned around... the US have already stated numerous times that should an American person ever stand trial before the International Court in The Hague they preserve the right to free him, even with "proportional violence".

This isn't about justice, its about greed.

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RE: ok, fair's fair

No., let's do it prop[erly: let's extradite all Americans who carry a fire arm, whether licensed under American law or not, since they are not licensed under our law. That's the nearest equivalent you can get to the utter crap which is going on in this case.

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Politicians operate on mind over matter

They don't mind and you don't matter.

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So how long

Before he's diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome or something else of that ilk?

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