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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      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Yes, but *I* don't pay anything to watch them! Being too poor to pay any council or income tax, I don't even pay for them indirectly. SHOCK HORROR! I'm stealing content comebody else has paid for!!!!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          That's what society is, we pay out of taxes for poorer people to be able to use facilities like libraries, doctors, street cleaners, roads, binmen, etc. Not paying council tax doesn't mean that you're stealing content in the same way that you're not robbing the NHS by seeing a doctor.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My God. What have you done?

      You've doomed us all! That's what!

  1. ideapete

    Its our new US Policy

    We get you to extradite your brightest and best then we give them jobs over here. Just another form of Talent selection and job creation

  2. Inachu

    not fair.

    Piracy laws have only affeced mostly white people.

    Of all the people who have pirated Microsoft certification software and then got a job with Microsoft or some other highly paid tech company have benefitted from piracy.

    A fine would have been a better way to go.

    Of all people I have met it was always the white who try to do it the honest way most of all.

    So now you get people to try to play the same game to get ahead in life and they get punnished.

    What are the stats on the arrests on what race gets put in jail most for piracy around the world?

    It could be the seller but it is never the student.

  3. SleepyJohn

    Mass worldwide civil disobedience might work

    It is beginning to seem as though virtually all the authorities throughout the world are in the pay of the odious racketeering 'entertainment' industry, which appears to be little more than a bunch of thugs with the morality of the Mafia and the foresight and intelligence of a dead Bluebottle. "There is a kid in England doing all our advertising for us for nothing - let's cut his legs off with a chainsaw and hang the remains from the Brooklyn Bridge. Here's your cheque, Senator".

    The only solution I can see is mass worldwide civil disobedience. If a couple of billion people stopped paying for any form of mass-distributed media and helped themselves off the internet these creeps might even run out of money for paying off politicians. Then things might change. Hopefully the current scum will be swept into the gutter and replaced with those having the intelligence of entrepreneurs rather than brain-damaged Bluebottles.

    Even the Americans might jib at locking up billions of people for the heinous crime of living in the present rather than the past. For all the emotive hysteria we are battered with, 'Copyright' and 'Intellectual Property' have nothing to do with any of this - quite simply the world is changing and as Clausewitz might have said: "We must change our plans accordingly."

    I don't know whether to cry at the crazed vindictiveness of these loathsome yobs or laugh at their state-of-the-art stupidity. I do know if I found them crawling around my kitchen I would boil a kettle sharpish. I also know they have completely demolished the guilt I once would have felt over helping myself to freebies, which would, paradoxically, have slowed down my acceptance of the changing, and improving face of entertainment. For that I must thank them. But: "You have done your job, now go!"

    1. Pseu Donyme

      > I also know they have completely demolished the guilt I once would have felt ...

      +1 : Actually, these days I feel kind of guilty paying money where some of that will end up with them.

  4. M.A

    he should

    Change his name move and try to disapear I would hey kid if u need hiding...

    1. Drew V.

      That would be admitting guilt to the American justice system. Nelson Mandela never tried to escape from his cell.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But I just did a search on uTube .....

    ... and a quick trawl through Google looking for Pirate came up with SO MANY Forum Links. I'm writing to my MP later giving him a piece of my mind, the FOOLS. If this is the 'Special Relationship' we keep hearing about then its obvious we're just that sticky bit of chewing gum the Americans can't get off their Jack Boots.

    Roll on the Appeal.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have I just landed the Reg in Gitmo?

    1. Local Group

      The Reg might get in hot water without your efforts

      Defamation of a District Judge is not jaywalking.

      " In (his) ruling District Judge Quentin Purdy rejected the defense arguments that extradition would be disproportionate to the crime, or that too long had passed since it had occurred, and said that there was sufficient criminal law on both sides of the Atlantic to have him shipped off to the US. (She) did give him leave to appeal to the High Court."

      Intentional use of the wrong pronoun.

      Speaking of which, it's too bad District Judge Quentin Crisp* didn't hear the case. Mr. O'Dwyer would have been sentenced to a Suez Canal of tea and some lovely scones.

      1. Ted Treen

        @Local Group

        "Defamation of a District Judge is not jaywalking."

        If you have to rely on a law which criminalises comment that you're a dickhead, then you truly are a dickhead.

        1. Local Group

          One might have thought my 8 other comments on this topic...

          would have precluded my having to announce my sarcasm on the one you object to. My bad.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I don't think for a minute that he should be extradited, but: He made £230k from advertising based on a site which solely existed to link to copyright material. I'm pretty sure that I would have taken a step back by that point and thought about the legality and ethics of what I was doing. It's not as if there weren't other people/organisations being prosecuted while he was running his site.

    If he'd done it for free, or costs, he probably wouldn't have ended up in the situation that he's in at the moment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      he's a student,

      How else was he meant to pay his Uni fees.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        The same way as everyone else: Stripping, prostitution, dealing, or (as I did) just doing so many drugs that you don't get a degree, run up loads of debts, but can't seem to remember why...

    2. Anonymous Coward


      That is assuming that the income for those ads went into his own pocket. Most articles only state that the site had ads on it.

      You /do/ realize that many hosting providers offer "free" websites, where the only thing you have to put up with are enforced ad banners ?

      I know that those banners wouldn't give him any income, but then again; it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the courts cared less about where the money was going and only focused on how much revenue the whole site generated.

      And before anyone says that this scenario doesn't fully represent the facts: Well, neither does the whole complaint. The website doesn't provide contents either but only directions on where to get those. The court obviously didn't care about that detail either, so why would the whole money aspect be treated any different?

      When it comes to copyright, or better put; when it comes to annoying multibillion companies, then the law often gets interpreted in very strange and peculiar ways.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If it's about the money then why don't they arrest Google, they would be making far more from his ads via the doubleclick network than he was.

  8. The Axe
    Big Brother

    What he did is a crime here in the UK, so try him in the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Urm, he was found not guilty by the CPS.

      1. Dick Emery
        Black Helicopters

        Which just goes to show the stupidty of this. It's a fucking sham. I can understand if someone from your country commits a crime in another country and stays there. Then sure extradite them. But this is someone who is native to this country. Had his so called crime quashed by UK justices but now another country wants to prosecute him for a 'crime' supposedly committed in this country? Our justices should be telling them to take a hike. This is pure and blatant sellout by UK gov to appease our US masters. Truly the UK has become the 51st state.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        The CPS don't find you anything, they either decide that there is a reasonable chance to obtain a conviction or not.

        Not being tried for something, doesn't make you not guilty of it, just not tried for it.

        1. Vic

          > Not being tried for something, doesn't make you not guilty of it, just not tried for it.

          Yes it does.

          In this country, we are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

          As he has not been proven guilty, he remains innocent.

          Not that that matters to the Septics, of course :-(


        2. Thing

          Not being tried for something, doesn't make you not guilty of it

          ... but with respect to being found guilty, having the CPS decide that there isn't a reasonable chance of a conviction isn't exactly a stellar start.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's not a crime it's a civil matter.

      1. Vic

        > It's not a crime it's a civil matter.

        It probably *is* a criminal matter.

        I suspect - with no evidence whatsoever, of course - that that's what all the advertising revenue bollocks is all about.

        Under the revolting section 107 of CDPA88[1], breaching copyright "in the course of business" is a criminal offence. Since they seem to be going for subsection 1(d)(iv), that carries a penalty of up to ten years inside.

        However, I can't seem to find anything in that law which makes him guilty of an infringement of copyright; Chapter II covers infringement, and it all requires the infringer passing copies of the material, not just telling others where to find such copies.

        Not that that's going to matter. Who cares if something is lawful? The yanks want their pound of flesh.


        [1] . You should all read it.

  9. Matt 4

    Another dangerous terrorist on his way to the incorporated states of America then

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I feel safer already.

    2. Local Group

      If English laws governing extradition are like other countries...

      then if the High Court grants the US request for extradition, the Court can do so with stipulations as to exactly what the charges must and must not be and, possibly (wishful thinking) make the US try O'Dwyer's with his offense a misdemeanor and not a felony.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    The beginning of the end

    There are a lot of odd things here. For the amount of money made I think he should face the courts. But a British court, with a private prosecution by the media lobby groups, under UK law. He has affected a private corporate interest here, and not the interests of the US State or its citizens.

    I would have thought that extradition is for when a government interests are attacked. Unfortunately Blair was (is?) in the romantic phase of his special relationship that he accepted this grand dildo. Him accepting such a proposal shows how weak a leader he was.

    But it does not bode well for the american of today. The very fact that a private corporation is able to influence and raise an extradition request is shocking. This shows the sorry state of affairs not only in the UK, but the US as well.

    Either there is more to this case, or the US and the UK have completely lost the plot of sovereignty and capitalism that they so desperately preach to nations elsewhere.

    One in glass houses don't throw stones. This is proof that civil rights and liberties are becoming an endangered thing.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      I would upvote you, except ....

      ... I don't want to be seen to be condoning your first paragraph. How much money he made is irrelevant - either he broke the law here or he didn't. The CPS has decided that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute, so he is free to carry on his life, and his business. However, if you want to start prosecuting people just for making a couple of hundred thousand pounds, then there is a very long list to go at.

      Other than that, I agree with your post

  11. Roland6 Silver badge

    Tangent: The 1779th most popular website has revenues of ~$230,000

    An interesting snippet of information. I would be interested in knowing more about this league table, and the distribution of advertising revenues, can any one tell us the ranking of the site with revenues of $1M and who is in the top 100 and their revenues? As this one piece of information does seem to indicate that the advertising revenues are being consolidated into a the pockets of a few big global websites.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is that their $230,000 figure or his?

      1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        read the article...

        "The US government claims in June 2010 it was the 1779th most popular website in the world, and that O’Dwyer made over $230,000 from advertising revenues as a result"

        The operative word is "claims" as distinct from "can prove"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          from Advertising Revenues?

          Not from reselling or even selling access to the stuff; but indirectly from probably legal advertising? So is that relevant to the alleged offence?

          1. Vic

            > So is that relevant to the alleged offence?

            Possibly, yes.

            s.107 of CDPA88 escalates copyright infringement to a criminal offence if it's performed in the course of business. Revenue from the site - even ad revenue - could be considered sufficient to trigger that provision.

            It's all bullshit, naturally, but that's the law we have (and it's not the one I want).


  12. Roland6 Silver badge

    A further tangential thought: Who actually owns the various domains

    I seem to remember that the US claimed ownership/control of the .com domain and hence used this to go after UK gambling sites that were used by Americian citizens, but what about the other domains, including national domains?

    This case I suggest gives cause to revisit the whole question of legal ownership and jurisdiction.

  13. spleendamage

    I guess I just don't get it at all

    I guess I don't really understand how the law works.

    Handing out business cards for prostitutes seems to be legal enough in Las Vegas, even though prostitution itself is illegal in the city. Isn't that, like, the same thing?

    If I sold maps with every house which could be a meth lab labeled as such, am I a criminal if one of those houses turns out to be a meth lab? What if all of them turn out to be meth labs?

    What if I sold a gun that killed someone? Illegal?

    1. Oninoshiko

      Strange, but true.

      Not prostitution, "Escort services." I have no idea what the difference is, but there is apparently one.

      There are legal brothels in parts of Nevada, but advertising them in counties which do not permit it (such as the only Vegas is in) is illegal.

      It's really pretty wierd overall, but "what happens in vegas..."

      Maps to meth labs probably wouldn't be a problem, provided they where accurate (otherwise it would be slander against the people living in the houses that AREN'T meth labs). You generally don't actually buy your meth by going to the lab... in fact the makers of meth would prefer the location of said lab not be known, and may decide to do something else less-then-legal about you.

      Provided you met all the federal and state laws restring arms sales (wonders how this can mesh with "the right to bare arms shall not be infringed") you are not responsible. Well, you might be if it failed to operate as designed.

      The US laws vary widely sometimes from state to state. Recently there was a woman who's house was being invaded by two men, and locked herself in the bedroom with a shot-gun and called the police. The police did not arrive before one of the men broke down her door and she (fatally) shot him. There is a murder charge, but it is against the other man who was breaking in. The wording of the law in that state is that if someone is killed during the commission of a felony, the person committing the crime is culpable for the death.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Slander: Law . defamation by oral utterance rather than by writing, pictures, etc.

        Methinks you meant libel

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why aren't the Americans, for example, going after all the international gambling sites? Gambling is illegal in most of America so these criminals surely need to be extradited immediately.

    Could it be that they mostly operate in countries that refuse to extradite anyone who hasn't committed a crime in that country or could the fact that they're very wealthy and can defend themselves be part of their decision making?

    Makes me proud not to be an American and ashamed to be British.

  15. Bent Outta Shape


    Gobsmacked, even. And I'm not even drunk this Friday night.

    So I checked the link from the second paragraph on the article, and no - the kid's website wasn't even hosted in the US.

    So what frekkin right does the US have to try him? How can our judiciary in any way consider that there's a case to answer in the US for activity a UK citizen(*) carried out entirely outside the USA? When will we see the US extraditing it's citizens to the slew of countries that imprison people for hosting - just for example - porn?

    Yes, I understand these are questions that aren't going to be answered from our government anytime soon, but it's an astoundingly bad precedent to set. Extradition treaty aside, and ignoring for now whether he broke UK law in hosting links - it's the thought that we'll send someone off to another country's legal system for acts anywhere on the 'net.

    I remain stunned, and hoping a higher court slaps down this judge...</rant>

    (*) an assumption based on the "never even left the North of England"

  16. BernieC


    Does America today remind anyone of Germany 1938? Just askin'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would never normally go Godwin.

      But now America has just enacted a law where the military can imprison anyone, indefinitely sand without access to any legal representation, including their own citizens then all you can do is see comparisons.

      1. Pseu Donyme

        Heh, maybe this guy should apply for asylum in a 3rd country :).

  17. Local Group

    Hypocrisy, Inc.

    "The first American "pirate" was probably Benjamin Franklin (1706-90), who was, among other things, a Philadelphia printer who re-published the works of British authors in the eighteenth century without seeking their permission or offering remuneration. Novelists, of course, were not the only writers affected. The complaints of poet William Wordsworth, for example, which began quietly in 1808, grew louder and more eloquent over the course of the next three and a half decades; by 1837 the matter had begun to absorb large amounts of his time and energy. He went to London to lobby the House of Commons, enlisting the aid of the popular dramatist Thomas Noon Talford as his parliamentary champion. During both his North American reading tours of 1842 and 1867-68 Dickens lobbied the American Congress to recognize the copyright of British authors, but made little headway because American publishing was undercapitalized and needed to be able to plunder British and continental works in order to survive. Indeed, during his first visit Dickens's raising the controversial issue made him anathema in certain political circles and in the American press; his responses to the criticisms that appeared in American newspapers are best reflected in Martin Chuzzlewit (1842-3)."

    "Indeed it may be said that if royalties which ought to have been paid in the United States on the novels of Scott, Dickens, and a host of others, on the dramatic adaptations of their stories, and on the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan when first produced, were now to be handed over with compound interest, Great Britain would no longer be a debtor nation to the United States. The contra account of American authors whose royalties were not paid by English publishers over the same period would be a drop in the ocean by comparison. (Pearson 106)"

    "Young Charles Dickens, in the process of being lionized by his Yankee readers, dared to assert that, had American publishers paid Sir Walter Scott appropriate royalties for his works re-printed in the United States from Marmion in 1808 to Castle Dangerous in 1832, he would not have faced bankruptcy in the middle of his career and would not have died at the age of 61, broken in body and mind by years of financial difficulties, and "unjustly deprived of his rightful income"

    District Judge Quentin Purdy rejected the defense arguments that ... too long had passed since it had occurred.

    Maybe Judge Purdy will hear arguments to restore all the royalties owed to the estates of Victorian authors by 19th century whining American publishers and copyright holders.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > The first American "pirate" was probably Benjamin Franklin.

      The grand irony is that without the blatant pirating of copyright works the US would probably not exist in it's current form.

      Tom Paine's 'common sense', the pamphlet that arguably sparked the American revolution, sold 500,000 copies. 400,000 of these were bootlegs....

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The law is an ass

    but if you put two fingers up at it , the ass is going to kick you.

    The best advice he could have taken was to shut the site down when told, pocket the cash from the advertising and get on with his studies.

    But no, he chose to put two fingers up and opened the second .cc site after the Cease and Dessist Notice. I can't think of many things that would piss off the American legal system more than some oink thumbing his nose at them.

    Good luck Richard, I hope you get off the charges, but I'm sorry to say, I think you are gonna learn the hard way.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Several times over recent years, I've thought I'd seen this repulsive lickspittle of a country plumb the depths of sycophancy, in its supine relationship with the USA. But, every time, something else comes along which shoves the nation's tongue just a couple more inches up Uncle Sam's anus.

    Meanwhile MPs strut about, chests puffed up like roosters, crowing about how their latest dealings with the Brussels have "maintained Brtain's independence".

    What a sad, pathetic spectacle it all is.


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