US Trying To Extradite UK TVShack Admin Over Questionable Copyright Charges?

from the copyright-gone-mad dept

In the latest example of US copyright interests gone mad, there are reports that there’s an attempt to extradite the admin of TVShack from the UK to the US to face criminal copyright infringement charges. This is ridiculous on all sorts of levels. First, TVShack.net was one of the very first domains seized a year ago. TVShack did not host any content and was merely a linking site, which raised questions (as with other seizures) about whether or not it actually violated US copyright law. Also, TVShack has gone through a few different versions and (potentially) owners/admins. However, one of the admins, Richard O’Dwyer, a computer science student, was recently arrested. It’s not clear if anyone even knows which instance of TVShack he’s accused of running.

Where this becomes really troubling is that other, very similar sites have been found legal in the UK multiple times. Running a site that users use to put up links and which doesn’t host any actual content, is not seen as illegal in the UK. So it seems particularly ridiculous that there’s some sort of attempt to extradite the guy to the US to face charges here. As some have pointed out it appears to be “an attempt to make US federal laws applicable in the UK.”

Unfortunately, the details of the extradition request are a bit muddled in all of the UK papers reporting on it. Lots of them are comparing the situation to the famous Gary McKinnon situation, but I think this is clearly different. This just seems blatantly vindictive for no good reason.

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Comments on “US Trying To Extradite UK TVShack Admin Over Questionable Copyright Charges?”

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109 Comments
Rabbit80 says:

This makes me wonder what would happen if I am running a site that hosts content that is in the public domain where I live – can I be extradited to a country where that content is not in the public domain to face trial?

For example – the works of James Joyce will become public domain next year in ireland – could i be treated as a criminal and be extradited to the US for trial for hosting it when it does? That’s insane.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

What I never understood is why no one’s going after the people who are actually uploading or hosting this content. Taking down a site like this doesn’t seem like it would be very effective.

“If you can heal the symptoms, but not affect the cause.
It’s quite a lot like trying to heal a gunshot wound with gauze.
If you instead attempt to rest the pistol from the hand, I would not be able to equate my life with sand.”

abc gum says:

Re:

“What I never understood is why no one’s going after the people who are actually uploading or hosting this content. “

Apparently that is too time consuming and costly. In typical business as usual fashion, the shortest route to profit is pursued.

….. Nothing personal, it’s just business.
It doesn’t matter how vehemently they deny it, Business Ethics is an oxymoron.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

If I remember correctly, the site was an embedded video display site, not just a random link site. I think it’s stated goal was to bypass copyright restrictions. It would seem that the site operator was aware of what he was including as part of his site.

Right. And if the site was aimed at the US, the site’s operator would be opening himself up to jurisdiction in the US. This is nothing new. It matters not if it’s legal where he resides. You can’t just hide in another country and intentionally break US law and get away with it. The feds are clearly sending a message to would-be infringers who think otherwise.

iBelieve says:

Re: Re:

I have no doubt that business models attempting to cut costs of hard copies and physical marketing in the real world has led to this playground of cat and mouse and these models continue to evolve as court decisions are enabling them near to rewrite the laws 100% as this is deemed to be profitable, but wisdom tells me this only leads to the chilling effect of breaking down the system as so much time being spent in the courts is always counter productive especially in a society that is defunked and needing a fresh breath of life blown into it to help revive its ailing economy.

Anonymous Coward says:

“This just seems blatantly vindictive for no good reason.”

i disagree with you on that last statement. The US government is doing this in a “last-ditch-effort” to be seen as the power of the planet. With companies leaving the US in droves the US is not taken very seriously anymore. So this attempt to have him extradicted is trying to show that they are still serious about things in the US……such as showing they no longer stand for what it preaches. but thats just my opinion.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re:

> I never understood is why no one’s going after
> the people who are actually uploading or hosting

Why? Because it is always Always ALWAYS easier to go after an innocent party.

That’s because an innocent party is not trying to hide.

Get mugged next to a building, it’s the building owner’s fault! Facilitators and Enablers!

Get robbed on a bus? It’s the bus company’s fault! Facilitators and Enablers!

Find a link to infringing content using Google? It’s Google’s fault! They are building their business on infringement! Facilitators and Enablers! Don’t go after the people who put up the infringing content (clue: which is not necessarily the site that hosts it). That would prevent you from shaking down others such as Yahoo, Bing or others. (Sort of like mass infringement shakedown letters.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow, it seems just like the other day when people were lauding the US judicial system for its fair and reasoned judgment in the Rigtshaven case… oh, right it was just the other day. Funny how the overall fairness of US jurisprudence changes from one day to the next on Techdirt. Personally, I think Masnick should put his money where is mouth is and fund a legal defense for this poor, misunderstood lad.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re:

The US is a failing world power. With leadership like we have here, passing any law that is put in front of them for the bargin basment price of a couple election contributions. Corporations using this to regulate competition out of the market. The patent system set up in a way that only corporations with a ton of money are capable of fighting off lawsuits. It all leads to monopoly status for a few corporations and a stifling of all competition and innovation. It also leads to the failure of those US corporations in one huge and tremendous collapse, as external competition, innovation, and adapatability whittle away at them.

Kinda sad if you think about it, becoming a country whose politicians do anything to support the monopolies and incumbents is leading to this countries failure.

Anonymous Coward says:

The simple fact is if it’s not illegal where he’s doing it, what right do we have to hold him to the laws of a country in which he is not a citizen? I mean quite frankly if you’re going to give it validity then I maintain that to take it to extremes to demonstrate my point, every person that comes in contact with the internet is potentially legally responsible for knowing and abiding by the laws of every country of the world simultaneously in both action and intent. In short, it’s unacceptable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

It’s these sorts of nonsensical, alarmist, Chicken Little statements that totally defeat the arguments of those who oppose the Protect IP Act and similar legislation and laws. Google, Bing and yahoo are not “dedicated to infringing activities” and “serve no other legitimate commercial purpose”. TVShack meets that definition. When the guys who vote on these bills hear absurd claims like the law makes Google liable as an enabler they literally laugh out loud.

iBelieve says:

Re: Re:

At earlier times when these companies were just starting up welcomed any and all content to draw in the viewers and hits. Now that they are rich and could possibly survive the next three economic collapses, they not only deny that infringing content is totally unacceptable, but vehemently deny ever utilizing that content. They would have us believe they have all earned their angelic wings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

For example – the works of James Joyce will become public domain next year in ireland – could i be treated as a criminal and be extradited to the US for trial for hosting it when it does?

Of course. U.S. law trumps all other.

That’s insane.

It’s up to Ireland to keep their laws up to date with the U.S. If they are negligent and don’t, then that’s what happens.

btr1701 says:

Jurisdiction

It’ll be interesting to see if Average Joe/FUD Buster/whatever he’s calling himself now says about this. He was so insistent that the US was not attempting to apply its laws internationally by seizing domains because technically those domains were managed by a US company even though the site and all its business was operated and conducted overseas.

Now here we have a clearcut case of the US attempting to impose criminal liability on a man for doing something perfectly legal in his own country, but which nevertheless is counter to US law. The very act of attempting to extradite and charge him means that the US believes its laws apply to every person on earth.

Which is total bullshit.

And how long before other countries start trying to do the same to American citizens? Can Iran extradite a US citizen for “disrespecting Islam” or a woman for appearing on the internet “immodestly” sans burqa? Can China make the case that Americans who exercise free speech on the internet are violating Chinese law and therefore should be turned over for trial?

If not, why not? If we can do it, why can’t they?

btr1701 says:

Re:

> “dedicated to infringing activities” and
> “serve no other legitimate commercial purpose

Those are what we in the lawyering business call weasel words. They’re specifically designed to be as vague and as open to interpretation as possible to enable situations where you don’t know what they *actually* mean until you’re in cuffs facing a judge or staring down the barrel of a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

In other words, “dedicated to infringing activities” means what the prosecutor wants it to mean and the government gets to decide it, a case-by-case basis, so as to provide no bright line standard against which people can judge their conduct or to which the government can be held accountable.

btr1701 says:

Re:

> to take it to extremes to demonstrate my point,
> every person that comes in contact with the
> internet is potentially legally responsible for
> knowing and abiding by the laws of every country
> of the world simultaneously in both action and
> intent. In short, it’s unacceptable.

Not only that, it would quickly lead to a situation where the internet and the people of the world are only as free as the most oppressive country on earth’s law allows.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

CDT lawyers were largely responsible for the definition of a rogue website in the Protect IP Act. Perhaps you should contact them with a more useful definition, or even offer one here. Or better still, why don’t you agree to represent this poor innocent youth pro bono after he’s extradited to the US?

btr1701 says:

Re: Re:

> Perhaps you should contact them with a more
> useful definition, or even offer one here.
> Or better still, why don’t you agree to
> represent this poor innocent youth pro bono
> after he’s extradited to the US?

Or even better yet, why don’t I just do what I can to oppose my government becoming the personal enforcement arm of the entertainment industry and greasing up and bending over for their every whim?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

> Oh, that should help the kid.

The kid has his own lawyers, who are actually licensed to practice in the UK. I can’t personally intervene in every injustice on the planet. Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t object to them when I see them happening.

You seem to be of the opinion that unless someone is ready to drop everything and hop on a flight to Britain and personally take up this guy’s cause, they shouldn’t say anything about it.

Nonsense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Someone needs to sort out the laws, who’s law is it anyway?
Once you start trying to apply US laws to else were whats to say that this cannot be reversed. Post something offensive or someone doesnt like in US and Russia, China or even Wales takes offence. Whats to say you cannot be found guilty and face consequences abroad. Be careful what you wish for. 😛

Anonymous Coward says:

Jurisdiction

And how long before other countries start trying to do the same to American citizens?

Might makes right. America has invested in building the worlds strongest military for a reason. When some other country builds a bigger one, then they can be top dog. But, for now, it’s America and America rules the world. So piss off, comrade.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Then don’t post anything. Simple. Problem solved.

I think that’s what the government and it’s corporate partners (especially the entertainment business ones) really want: To put the internet genie back in the bottle and turn it into a one-way broadcast medium where what people say can be more easily controlled. The only two-way ability they want is for people to be able to input credit card numbers to buy stuff.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

You’ve got it wrong. Completely wrong. It’s not desperation. They’re testing the waters. “How far can we actually go?”

If this one case “works”, then they start doing the same for tons more sites, effectively killing the local laws. Then they move on to another country. It’s all part of their lobbying program with other nations as well.

It’s simply the next step in their “We will rule you” agenda. Obviously we missed the memo that every gov employee got to step it up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Oh, Ok are you saying that the courts are righteous and fair and the DOJ evil then? 99% of the blockheads here don’t know or care that Justice and the courts are different branches of government. The government is “bad” when there’s an action or decision they disagree with and “good” when a decision like Rightshaven comes down. The bottom line is that people make sweeping generalizations about judges being on the take and agencies being corrupt when the only thing that has happened is that an action was taken or judgement entered they disagree with. Pretty pathetic.

Niall (profile) says:

Re:

Well, given that the US now has laws on its books that allow citizens to ‘break’ laws of other countries (read: stupid libel laws, etc.) with no harm to them, then how should it work the other way, other than “America uber alles”?

Once you start down the “you broke a law in my country even though you were in your country” then all laws boil down to those of the nastiest dictatorship/theocracy.

Any Mouse (profile) says:

Re:

Let’s clear this up for you:

In the Righthaven case, we were lauding a judge, not the whole judicial branch.

In this case, we’re berating the DoJ, who are trying to force our laws outside of our sovereignty.

Now, how are you so able to confuse the two of these? How are we ‘blockheads’ when you’re the one that’s trying to muddy the issue?

Little troll, please take your drool and go home?

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually its only a crime to supply alcohol to children under 18, its NOT an offence for them to drink alcohol if they are under 18 in UK, Australia, New Zealand (Not sure about Canada). Most kids are allowed alcohol with meals when they are teenagers ie: Wine, Mead, Port, etc

This allows them knowledge on the responsible consumation of it. (or is supposed too)

There was a huge crap-fight in the USA when Harry potter et.al had the audacity to drink Mead and eggnog when they were 15/16 years old. *eye roll*

Anonymous Coward says:

Costing The US Taxpayer

“lets treat people accused of copyright infringement like drug lords” — Yup, so how is that whole “War on Drugs” thing panning out for you? Big success is it? Hardly costs the ole US taxpayer anything, is that right? Getting ready to declare “Mission Accomplished” sometime soon now, are you? Noticed how those Mexican drug lords are going to go broke and turn into nice law-abiding citizens, any day now? Or maybe not?

Now, at the behest of a tiny industry of no economic importance, the US government is attempting to ramp up another whole system of repression to try to stamp out file sharing. Good move, guys, take on your whole teenage and young adult population, so you can suck up to a tiny bunch of thugs who are cultural vandals. It would be interesting to work out the total cost to the US taxpayer of all this madness, in a year, then compare it to the total profits of the industry, for the same period.

Chris in Utah (profile) says:

Re:

Considering we cant even figure out the age of consent and methods of coherence from state to state? Top of that in most countries your allowed to hunt at the age of 12 but not have sex or drink. Scratch that, you can drink at 12 in some countries. Oh, and don’t get me started on people being stuck in sex offender tent cities because they decided to fall in love with a freshmen in high-school there graduating year. Fun fact, it was 10 originally in English common law and gradually grew from there.

It’s amazing how many times I see the Eudophilia poster in the demotivationals.

Anonymous Coward says:

Jurisdiction

It’ll be interesting to see if Average Joe/FUD Buster/whatever he’s calling himself now says about this. He was so insistent that the US was not attempting to apply its laws internationally by seizing domains because technically those domains were managed by a US company even though the site and all its business was operated and conducted overseas.

Now here we have a clearcut case of the US attempting to impose criminal liability on a man for doing something perfectly legal in his own country, but which nevertheless is counter to US law. The very act of attempting to extradite and charge him means that the US believes its laws apply to every person on earth.

Which is total bullshit.

And how long before other countries start trying to do the same to American citizens? Can Iran extradite a US citizen for “disrespecting Islam” or a woman for appearing on the internet “immodestly” sans burqa? Can China make the case that Americans who exercise free speech on the internet are violating Chinese law and therefore should be turned over for trial?

If not, why not? If we can do it, why can’t they?

You’re a savvy federal agent. Surely you understand how jurisdiction works. I’ve explained it to you before. As you know, you can break US law and be extradited to the US if certain conditions are met.

btr1701 says:

Jurisdiction

> As you know, you can break US law and be
> extradited to the US if certain conditions
> are met.

And what are those “certain conditions”, oh vague oracle?

How exactly does the US Congress legally pass a law which purportedly binds the entire population of the world to follow it?

If I’m a citizen of Indonesia, what principle of law requires me to abide by laws passed by the US Congress– a legislative body in a country of which I am not a citizen, in which I have no representation, and cannot vote to affect?

Anonymous Coward says:

Jurisdiction

If I’m a citizen of Indonesia, what principle of law requires me to abide by laws passed by the US Congress– a legislative body in a country of which I am not a citizen, in which I have no representation, and cannot vote to affect?

They’re collective known as the laws of physics, and describe the results of a bullet passing through your head or a cruise missile coming through in your window. Any more questions?

Bryan O'Doyle says:

What IS the meaning of IS

From the article: “Running a site that users use to put up links and which doesn’t host any actual content, is not seen as illegal in the UK.”

Look, I put a link in a ‘What’s on your mind’ field/ Share dealyhickey, on Facebook. I put that link there. I have no idea if Facebook has code which then goes and finds the material the link I shared goes to and then grabs that content and makes a copy on Facebook’s servers, but somehow I doubt it.

So, a site which users can post links, and which does not host the content.

Holy shit, I might be extradited to the land of Jefferson, Franklin and Webster? Yeeeha!

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