Wikipedia founder calls for UK 'pirate' extradition to stop

Wikipedia founder calls for UK 'pirate' extradition to stop

Summary: Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, has stepped up to defend a British student who faces extradition to the U.S. over a link-site that operates "no differently to Google."


Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has blasted the decision to extradite U.K. student Richard O'Dwyer, who faces a U.S. trial for alleged crimes that were committed on U.K. soil.

The U.S. Department of Justice wants to see the 23-year-old student extradited to face copyright offences.

According to U.S. prosecutors, his "victims" were in Hollywood and therefore should be extradited to face trial, despite a similar U.K. case ruling that such link-sites are not illegal only two years ago.

The 23-year-old student set up TV-Shack, a site that provided links to television and film content elsewhere on the Web. Not a single shred of copyrighted material was stored on his website.

O'Dwyer faces 10 years in prison should he be convicted by a U.S. court. (He could always take a leaf out of Julian Assange's book and make a run for the Ecuadorian embassy.)

Describing O'Dwyer as a "clean-cut, geeky kid" who he imagines as the sort of person who will end up "launching the next big thing on the Internet" in a piece for The Guardian, he considers the case against him to be "thin" and called it "an outrage that he is being extradited to the U.S. to face felony charges for something that he is not being prosecuted for here."

But it was argued that the site was “no different to Google” in how it operated. In practical, objective terms, the site was no different to Google, or any other search engine for that matter. O'Dwyer even took down links from his site when notified, complying with the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown system.

At the same time, Wales set up a petition to the U.K.'s Home Secretary Theresa May, who has the power to put a halt to the extradition.

It's not the first time Wales has intervened on a matter of political principle.

In January, in protest of the SOPA and PIPA bills presented before Congress, he blacked out Wikipedia for a day to simulate how a "censored" Web would harm the free and open speech of the site's online editors.

O'Dwyer's case opened up a whole new can of worms that could see any U.K. citizen facing extradition to the United States by simply tweeting a link to a copyrighted file on The Pirate Bay, for example.

May gave the go-ahead for O'Dwyer to be extradited, but remains at home pending an appeal to the High Court in London.

Image credit:


Topics: Enterprise Software, Collaboration, Piracy, Security

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  • Perhaps it is time

    For people to flood FB and other sites with links to this content. Just for fun and to stick in the damn lawyers asses.
    I am not against all lawyers. Just against those making cases out of thin air, hurting real people in the process.
  • It's a crock!

    While I am against piracy at the same time what O'Dwyer did was NOT illegal on UK soil and IMHO extradition should not happen. It would be one thing if O'Dwyer did this on US soil and went back to the UK - then it would have been a crime on US soil. And he cooperated with the US authorities and took down the links when requested. The US authorities need to let it go and the UK authorities need to grow a pair and reject the extradition.
    • Balls

      "the UK authorities need to grow a pair and reject the extradition." - that's a bit sexist isn't it ?!
  • I could go either way.

    On one hand he did hurt Hollywood, I dont think the google argument flies, first google searches everything with their spiders. music, movies, tv shows, pics, books, information, etc.. his website was just TV-Shack, a site that provided links to television and film content elsewhere on the Web. What he did he did on purpose knowing what he was doing. Thats a bit different then google. Why do Brits think they are above the Law? Just like that other guy who hacked the military's computer system even made the US 7th Fleet move, but hey he should be let off because he is a UK citizen? Really? If I was pirating BBC stuff I would think they would go after me. They would have every right to, I wouldnt think I would be above British law, same if I hack the Brits system and made comments about the Queen, but thats just me though knowing right from wrong.

    On THe other hand, he didnt host any of the tv or film and he did cooperate when asked to. I am ok with him winning his appeal, really you should only be extradited for really bad crimes, I chalk this up to a little crime. Still wrong but extradition seems alittle harsh.
    • ???

      Do you put an equal sign between putting a web site together, with information that is already freely available and hacking a military system?
      And he hurt Holywood? Really? By assembling already freely available information and withdrawing questionable links when requested? I am sorry my friend, but this is simply delusional.
      Also, yes, Britts in general are not subject to US law. Extradition works only if the "crime" he committed (remember, not guilty unless court of law decides he is) is a crime in UK as well. Or do you imply that USSR could have requested, and US granted an extradition of a person who denies the leading role of the Communist party for example? Yea, didn't think so.
      This is abuse of the legal system, nothing else.
  • Well lets see

    I put an equal sign only in the sense that they both do not want to be extradited, yes in that sense they are very much alike.

    "By assembling already freely available information " Thats the point though isn't it, he assembled it. Knowing full well it was copyrighted, I know its available but I don't make a website of BBC shows and point people to it. Say what you will but he did hurt Hollywood in loss DVD sales etc.. because of his website. Are you really saying morally and ethically that he is right?

    Here is the thing though, If I was pointing to pirated BBC shows and they tried to extradite me, I think they would have a case. If I hacked the UK's Government network, after a tragedy like 911, made their 7th fleet move, none of which he denies, yea I would expect the UK to come after me.

    "Extradition works only if the "crime" he committed (remember, not guilty unless court of law decides he is) is a crime in UK as well." If that is true then great he will win his appeal, enough said. Yes I think extradition is a bit harsh and should only be used for the worst crimes.

    Since you went off on a crazy tangent about USSR, I will to, If I went to the UK and hurt someone went to a country that hurting someone was not illegal but the first country had a extradition treaty you really dont think the treaty should be used? Really?
  • Russia

    Well, actually Russian law prevent them from sending their citizens for trial in other countries. Even if the crime would be physically commited in the US, russian citizens are safe from US trial if they are on Russian soil. The trial would take place in Russia under Russian law (where for example mp3 download sites are considered like radio stations)
  • These sorts of extraditions have always bothered me

    It seems to me that if you're not in the country, you ought not to be subject to its laws. It's also true that there are a lot of countries in this world whose laws I would like to never be subject to.
    John L. Ries
  • oh ...

    .. I do LOL at hollywood being the "Victim".
    Scarface Claw
  • check ...

    .. out the realities of copyright laws.
    Scarface Claw
  • morally?

    we are talking legally here, morally and ethically have no place in these discussions.

    I dont know the website, but if the users were posting links and the site-owner was taking them down after DCMA, then there is no case. If the webiste owner was posting the links then I see that more as a publishing role, and the ground gets a little iffy.