Saturday, 1 December 2012

Richard O'Dwyer Makes A Deal With The US To Avoid Extradition

The case of the British student Richard O'Dwyer, which Techdirt has been following, is to be resolved with a deferred prosecution deal, which is described by the Business Dictionary as

A voluntary alternative to adjudication in which a prosecutor agrees to grand amnesty in return for the defendant abiding by certain requirements.

BBC News reports,

The High Court was told Mr O'Dwyer had signed a "deferred prosecution" agreement which would require him paying a small sum of compensation.

Mr O'Dwyer will travel to the US voluntarily in the next few weeks for the deal to be formally ratified, it is understood.

This deal is, we suppose, a face-saving exercise for both the UK and US governments, bearing in mind the specious nature of the case against O'Dwyer, whose "crime" was to operate a website that linked to copyrighted videos of movies and TV shows. But so does Google. That's the problem. Since when was linking a crime?

Ben Cooper, O'Dwyer's lawyer, argued TVShack did not store copyrighted material and simply pointed users to other sites, much like Google and other Internet search engines. Furthermore, according to legal experts, O'Dwyer's actions were not a crime in the UK, since he did not download anything himself.

Home Secretary Theresa May, who also backs the controversial Snooper's Charter, a plan to spy on UK electronic and postal correspondence, has been holding fast to the plan to extradite O'Dwyer, but appears to have softened her stance in response to the public outcry against the extraditions of British citizens accused of non-terrorist crimes. However, the precedent set by the case of SurfTheChannel's Anton Vickerman remains. The common sense report from the Republican Study Committee, an amazing document debunking various myths about copyright law and suggesting key reforms, has been pulled due to pressure from the Institute for Policy Innovation and other industry groups. This is a terrible shame because an opportunity to reform copyright to make it work as intended has been lost, though hopefully not for good. The fact is, until our copyright laws are thoroughly overhauled, there are almost certainly going to be more O'Dwyers and Vickermans having their lives overturned to support a business model based on exclusivity and artificial shortage.

See Techdirt's article for further details.

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