Student faces extradition to US for hosting links

A Sheffield student is facing extradition to the US for running a website that directed visitors to online movies and TV shows, despite the fact that the site only hosted links and not the material itself
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

A 23-year-old student at Sheffield Hallam University is facing extradition to America for allegedly running a website that provided links to television shows and films hosted on other websites.

Computer science undergraduate Richard O'Dwyer was arrested three weeks ago for running the website TVShack.net, which has since been seized by US Immigration and Customs. TVShack.net was seized as it hosted links to other websites where people could stream TV and films online. O'Dwyer is accused of being the administrator of the site.

Student O'Dwyer was arrested on 23 May and spent the night in custody, before his aunt posted bail of £3,000. He will be represented by Ben Cooper, a lawyer involved in the long-running Gary McKinnon extradition case, according to a report in local newspaper, The Star.

Terms of his bail involved not entering ports or airports and not applying to register new domain names. On Tuesday, O'Dwyer appeared before the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court for a brief preliminary hearing. His lawyer said the extradition demands made by the US breached O'Dwyer's human rights and there was no basis for extradition.

"The server was not based in the US at all. Mr O'Dwyer did not have copyrighted material on his website; he simply provided a link. The essential contention is that the correct forum for this trial is in fact here in Britain, where he was at all times," Cooper is quoted in the report as saying.

Following the hearing the defendant's mother, Julia O'Dwyer, described the extradition request as unnecessary.

"To try to haul him off to America for trial while he's midway through his university studies is so utterly disproportionate it defies belief," his mother said. "We have a perfectly good justice system in the UK — why aren't we using it in cases such as this?"

The essential contention is that the correct forum for this trial is here in Britain, where he was at all times.
– Ben Cooper, Lawyer

O'Dwyer is scheduled to return to court on 12 September for a further hearing. He has not yet entered a plea in the case.

The site was taken offline by US authorities as part of 'Operation In Our Sites' which began in June 2010 with the seizure of a number of similar sites, such as Movies-Links.tv, FilesPump.com, Now-Movies.com and PlanetMoviez.com. The operation took down more than 80 further sites in November 2010.

Despite being taken offline, the site quickly re-appeared at TVShack.cc, which has since also been seized by US authorities. The site TVShack.bz is still accessible, but it is unknown whether O'Dwyer has any link to that domain.

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