UK government approves extradition of student for copyright breach

Home secretary Theresa May has approved the extradition of a 23-year-old UK computer science student to the US to face trial for copyright breach

Home Secretary Theresa May has approved the extradition of a 23-year-old UK computer science student to the US to face trial for copyright breach.

Richard O'Dwyer, who was still a teenager when he set up the TVShack.net website, is accused of breaching copyright by posting links to pirated film and television content.

Even though he has never been to the US or used web servers located in US territory, he is wanted by authorities there because most of the content featured on his site was made in the US.

O’Dwyer’s mother, Julia, said her son had been “sold down the river by the government” because it has not introduced much-needed changes to the extradition law, according to the Telegraph.

She called on Prime Minister David Cameron, who is on a visit to the US, to raise the issue with US President Barack Obama. "The US is coming for the young, the old and the ill, and our government is paving the way," she said.

O'Dwyer's case follows last month's controversial extradition of 65-year-old Christopher Tappin, who is awaiting trial on arms dealing charges. Meanwhile, Asperger Syndrome sufferer Gary McKinnon is still fighting extradition to the US to face charges of hacking into US military computers in 2002.

O'Dwyer, who is said to have made £150,000 from ads on his site over three years until December 2010, faces a maximum of ten years in jail if he pleads not guilty and is convicted.

His hopes now rest with an appeal in the High Court or the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

O'Dwyer's defence team had argued that his alleged conduct was not an offence under UK law. His website did not host pirated material itself, but acted as a directory of links.

A UK attempt in 2010 to prosecute the operators of a similar website, TV-Links, failed because of European laws that protect firms against copyright infringement claims if they have little influence over the material to which they link.

O'Dwyer's defence said his site had the same protection, but the judge in his extradition hearing ruled that, because he was involved in deciding who was allowed to post links on the website, his alleged conduct was a criminal offence under UK copyright law.

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