Monday, July 16, 2012

Richard O'Dwyer : U.S. Pursuing a Middleman in Web Piracy

13 July 2012
New York Times, July 13, 2012:

Richard O’Dwyer at a courthouse in London. He started a Web site that prosecutors say helped people find pirated content. Carl Court/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Published: July 12, 2012
Richard O’Dwyer, an enterprising 24-year-old college student from northern England, has found himself in the middle of a fierce battle between two of America’s great exports: Hollywood and the Internet.
At issue is a Web site he started that helped visitors find American movies and television shows online. Although the site did not serve up pirated content, American authorities say it provided links to sites that did. The Obama administration is seeking to extradite Mr. O’Dwyer from Britain on criminal charges of copyright infringement. The possible punishment: 10 years in a United States prison.
The case is the government’s most far-reaching effort so far to crack down on foreigners suspected of breaking American laws. It is unusual because it goes after a middleman, who the authorities say made a fair amount of money by pointing people to pirated content. Mr. O’Dwyer’s backers say the prosecution goes too far, squelching his free-speech right to publish links to other Web sites. ...
The extradition case against Mr. O’Dwyer has turned him into something of a cause célèbre. Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, is leading a crusade to save him, with an online petition that has gathered over 225,000 signatures worldwide in two weeks.
Still, the British home secretary, Theresa May, approved the extradition order in March and said Monday that she would let the order stand. Mr. O’Dwyer has appealed; a hearing in Britain is expected this fall. ...
“America? They have nothing to do with me,” Mr. O’Dwyer’s mother said he had told her. He reopened his site as, which he reckoned was beyond the reach of the United States.
A few months later came a knock on the door from the British police. A judge ruled that Mr. O’Dwyer would not be prosecuted in Britain. Instead, the United States would seek to extradite him.
His mother was stunned. “This is for fugitives and murderers and terrorists,” she recalled thinking. “Richard has never fled the scene of a crime. He has never left the U.K.!” ...
None of the court filings listed below were available this morning, July 13, 2012. more