In a quizzical case involving an international trade dispute and the Internet, a 23-year-old college student named Richard O'Dwyer is being extradited from England to the United States for running the link-sharing site TVShack. The case has been going on for months but on Tuesday afternoon, a British high court judge ruled that O'Dwyer could be sent across the pond to be tried for copyright infringement in the U.S. This is really weird since O'Dwyer lives in the U.K., runs the website in the U.K., did not use servers in the United States and did not actually host any illegal content on them. O'Dwyer's mother is very upset about the latest development in the months' long ordeal. "Today, yet another British citizen is being sold down the river by the British Government," she told the press after the hearing.
Mike Masnick at the blog TechDirt offered a similarly appalled reaction. "There are so many holes in the case it's difficult to understand why ICE and DHS"—U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security—"are ruining the life of a UK student with no clear legal basis," he said. "Given the growing concerns about the overreach of the entertainment industry to take away basic freedoms, sending Richard O'Dwyer across the Atlantic on bogus charges just so the MPAA can stick his head on a pike somewhere isn't going to go over very well." O'Dwyer, who reportedly earned about $230,000 in advertising fees for hosting links that allegedly pointed to illegal content is no Kim Dotcom. O'Dwyer is, however, an unfortunate martyr in the U.S. government's battle against file-sharing -- which is ridiculous since O'Dwyer apparently didn't share any files. But that's not how I.C.E. is spinning the story. If you visit O'Dwyer's site at TVShack.cc, you get to watch a free video about how watching pirated DVDs makes people lose their jobs. We sort of understand what the Feds are trying to say, but still think it's absurd.