Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

TVShack student to face US trial

Richard O'Dwyer outside Westminster Magistrates' Court, where he was told he will be extradited to the United States

A student who created a website which helped people watch films and TV shows for free can be extradited to the United States to face copyright infringement allegations, a court has ruled.

Sheffield Hallam University undergraduate Richard O'Dwyer, 23, allegedly earned thousands of pounds through advertising on the TVShack website before it was closed down by the US authorities.

He faces jail if convicted of the allegations, which were brought following a crackdown by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

His lawyer Ben Cooper has argued that the site did not store copyright material itself and merely pointed users to other sites, in the same way that Google and Yahoo operate.

Mr Cooper also claimed his client would be the first British citizen to be extradited for such an offence and would effectively become a "guinea pig" for copyright law in the US.

But District Judge Quentin Purdy ruled at Westminster Magistrates' Court that the extradition could go ahead. Mr Cooper indicated his client would appeal against the ruling. O'Dwyer, who wore a grey shirt and blue jeans, showed no emotion as the ruling was made.

His mother Julia criticised Britain's extradition treaty with the US. She said after the hearing: "If they want to prosecute something they will. There's no safeguards here for British citizens."

She also claimed the District Judge did not have the "technical brains to know about the whole thing", adding: "That guy just lives and breathes extradition."

District Judge Purdy said in his ruling: "There are said to be direct consequences of criminal activity by Richard O'Dwyer in the USA albeit by him never leaving the north of England. Such a state of affairs does not demand a trial here if the competent UK authorities decline to act and does, in my judgment, permit one in the USA."

He added: "I reject all challenges advanced to this request. No bars or other challenge being raised or found, I send the case to the Secretary of State."

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