TV Shack Pirate Website Owner Gets Spared Extradition To US

Richard O’Dwyer, an English student based in Sheffield, has been spared from potential extradition, trial, and imprisonment in the USA following an agreement of ‘deferred prosecution’ with American authorities.

The issue concerning the Americans was that O’Dwyer operated a site called TVShack (seized and shut down in June 2010), which hosted links to pirated TV shows and movies (bearing similarities to the now-defunct ‘Surfthechannel’ website), with a particular emphasis on the other side of the Atlantic, after the ‘US Immigration & Customs Enforcement’ agency claimed that he earned over $230,000 (£147,000) of advertising revenue by hosting links to such copyrighted content on TV Shack.

However, the case, which was originally ruled in May that O’Dwyer was to be extradited to America to hear the charges against him (and a potential US jail sentence of up to 5 years if found guilty), has now been settled privately, with O’Dwyer due to make a voluntary visit to the North American nation within the next fortnight to confirm the arrangement, which will see him hand over a ‘small sum’ of compensation and an assurance to the agency that he will not ‘infringe on copyright laws’ again.

He will then conclude the process by returning to the High Court in London (England) with proof of the settlement to have the extradition request formally dismissed.

The manner in which the case had been pursued in America was the source of criticism from many, with plenty of ‘anti-SOPA’ organisations and personalities, including Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, speaking out in favour of the accused.

This was been added to yesterday closer to home for O’Dwyer following the announcement, as Isabella Sankey, the ‘director of policy’ at human rights campaign group Liberty, said of the problematic system for dealing with extradition cases: “This will be a huge relief for Richard, but how appalling that he had to wait so long for the US authorities to make this decision. Case after case shows that our extradition arrangements must be overhauled to allow people who have never left these shores to be dealt with here at home.”

When it comes to political support, the ‘Pirate Party UK’ (who aim to ‘legalise non-commercial file-sharing’) will not be seen as an authoritative organisation to have on-side, but O’Dwyer will still be grateful for the comments made by party leader Loz Kaye, who noted of the ‘disproportionate and unnecessary’ former requests: “It [the agreement] does not remove the underlying problem. The US cannot be allowed to be the copyright cops of the world.”

The news of O’Dwyer’s settlement will no doubt be a positive one for Kim Dotcom’s representatives, whose current case in New Zealand to be extradited to the USA has been put on hold until next year, but given the comparative severity of the offences by each ‘pirate’, the Americans will be more likely to exploit every angle in getting the German-born billionaire to their country and ensure that a precedent is not set for the Megaupload service to follow onto…

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