The founder of TVShack.net has been accused of violating American intellectual property law. The case is part of a larger effort by American authorities to crack down on online piracy.
British Home Secretary Theresa May has approved the extradition of a British student to the United States who has been accused of violating American intellectual property law.
Last year, the United States Department of Justice charged Richard O'Dwyer, 23, with using his site TVShack.net as a hub for unauthorized digital copies of television programs and other media. American authorities have accused O'Dwyer of making hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue, and profiting from what they say is stolen content.
O'Dwyer was notified of the decision on Monday, which means he still has 14 days to appeal the home secretary's decision.
"I've done nothing wrong under UK law, and, it's pretty ridiculous isn't it?” he told the BBC on Tuesday. "Copyright laws differ between countries and that's yet to be fought, that argument."
TVShack.net, along with a number of others that O'Dwyer controls, was seized by American officials in May 2011 and now displays a message listing the penalties for copyright infringement.
American authorities organized a similar campaign against the site MegaUpload, whose founder, Kim Dotcom, a German citizen, was arrested in New Zealand last year. Earlier this month, the American government filed a formal extradition request to New Zealand for Dotcom - his hearing has been scheduled for August 20.
Operation in Our Sites
TVShack.net did not actually host any files, but provided links to other websites and services where the material could be found. In 2011, the US shut down TVShack, along with a hundred other similar sites as part of operation "In Our Sites."
The site was specifically named in a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) press release from June 2010.
"ICE and our partners at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center are targeting pirate websites run by people who have no respect for creativity and innovation," said John Morton, ICE's assistant secretary, in the 2010 statement. "We are dedicated to protecting the jobs, the income and the tax revenue that disappear when organized criminals traffic in stolen movies for their own profit."
The UK Federation Against Copyright Theft has previously estimated that the UK film and television industry loses over a 100 million British pounds (114 million euros, $163 million) per year because of online piracy.
'Flimsy' legal argument, some say
Theresa May, the UK's home secretary, approved the extradition on March 9
Legal experts have previously questioned the legal argument behind the seizure of O'Dwyer's site. The American government has argued it has jurisdiction over O'Dwyer because his site - like all domains with .com and .net addresses - are routed through Verisign, a key Internet infrastructure company that is physically located in the American state of Virginia.
Various Internet rights groups have spoken out against O'Dwyer's prosecution, including the Open Rights Group in London.
"The US claiming jurisdiction in the UK - and the UK government giving it to them - on such flimsy grounds should worry us all,” wrote Peter Bradwell, a campaigner at Open Rights Group, in an e-mail sent to DW. “This effectively means the long arm of US law stretches right across the Internet, giving us another example of law failing to catch up with technology. And that is having tremendous consequences for families in the UK."
Author: Cyrus Farivar
Editor: Joanna Impey