Would The US Extradite UK Blogger For Linking To Works In The Public Domain In Other Countries?

from the insanity-of-today's-copyright-laws dept

James Firth has an interesting post, talking about some of the more ridiculous consequences of current US law enforcement interpretation of copyright law. Looking at the case of Richard O’Dwyer, the computer science student that the US is getting closer to extraditing to the US to face criminal copyright infringement charges for merely linking to infringing works (something that had already been found legal in the UK multiple times), Firth takes it to its logical ends. He points out that George Orwell’s works, Animal Farm and 1984 have gone into the public domain in South Africa, Canada or Australia. And thus, there are completely legal free copies of such works online. But they’re only legal in those countries. In the US and the UK, both remain under the yoke of copyright thanks to copyright extensions.

This leads to a simple fear. If he merely pointed people to the location of these completely legal versions of the work, he would now be just as “guilty” as Richard O’Dwyer under the interpretation of the US Justice Department. After all, he is using a .com domain (American property, according to the stretched interpretation of the DOJ) to link to works that technically infringe in both the UK — where he is — and the US, where the DOJ has suddenly become the US entertainment industry’s private police force.

This is creating a truly chilling effect on speech around the globe. The public domain is the public domain for a purpose, and it’s somewhat insane to think that US actions are now chilling the mere discussion of where public domain works in other countries can be obtained completely legally in those countries.

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Comments on “Would The US Extradite UK Blogger For Linking To Works In The Public Domain In Other Countries?”

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50 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Let's play their game....

“George Orwell’s works, Animal Farm and 1984 have gone into the public domain in South Africa, Canada or Australia. And thus, there are completely legal free copies of such works online. But they’re only legal in those countries. In the US and the UK, both remain under the yoke of copyright thanks to copyright extensions.”

Clearly we have an uneven global Public Domain system and it’s high time we lobby Congress to rectify this embalance with our trading partners by bringing our Public Domain more in line with the rest of the world’s. I mean come on….it’s what Chris Dodd would do (minus fat little envelopes)….

Mr. Pond says:

Not justice.

What’s being done to O’Dwyer is *NOT* within hailing distance of being justice. That situation is morally repugnant and we as a nation should be outraged and embarrassed that we would so meakly acquiesce to the overreaching arm of frankly bought US law enforcement.

Where does this end? Could Tehran extradite UK or US citizens for saying nasty things about their glorious supreme leader? This sets such a dangerous precedent. Did no-one actually think of the unintended consequences of this action?

*Sigh* Anyway, public domain anywhere should mean public domain everywhere. Extradition of a person to a foreign jurisdiction for copyright is a gross over-extension of the original intentions behind various extradition treaties.

This nonsense needs to STOP.

awbMaven (profile) says:

First they should come for ...

I shall be researching and reporting all pro-ACTA (and the like) persons/organizations for infringements in an extremely vexatious manner.

If it is good for the goose, I think the gander should step up to the plate and show that they are willing to abide by their own draconian wishes.

As it is, I hope the UK Supreme Court decides in the recent Assange case that the UK Extradition Act is illegal, and that all extraditions of UK national to the US is halted until such a time as the Act is fair, proportional, and balanced.

PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

I’m a little confused. Let’s say I go to Canada and legally purchase a copy of 1984 that has been made without paying any royalties and then fly into the US. What is my copyright violation? As I understand it, it’s illegal to copy, perform, etc in the US. But I did none of these things in the US. It was all done in a country where it was perfectly legal for me to do those things and then came into the US. Am I missing something?

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Global Treaties

This is one of those times when a global treaty would come in handy. We should be working toward an unified copyright code that brings copyright into the modern age. No, I am not talking about ACTA or the TPP. I am talking about a fact based treaty in which copyright law, piracy, the public domain etc are all researched, studied and the best model of copyright law is brought forth.

There is no reason why any work should be in the public domain in one nation while still under copyright in another. This is insanity.

The internet has made current copyright law obsolete and it needs updated. Too bad too many politicians in too many countries are listening to the wrong people spout off faulty information rather than listening to reason and fact.

In fact, this very issue has harmed innovation and culture already. There was a recent project to bring public domain sheet music freely to the public. However, several pieces of music were still under copyright in certain “persuasive” nations and the services was killed off because the site owner couldn’t afford, both financially and emotionally, to fight. That is a loss to culture. That should never have happened in any civilized society.

We need change.

Anonymous Coward says:

Way to go Mike and the rest of you Techdirtbags. Trying to conflate public domain works with illegal and reprehensible copyright infringement. Anything to justify the thievery each and every one of you takes part in. Thievery that is costing American jobs and hurting the economy at the expense of perhaps it’s greatest and most important industries. He (Richard O’Dwyer) willingly and blatantly violated the copyright of several studios and posted links to the infringing material. So they could be “shared” (coughSTOLENcough) by even more people. Whether or not this is legal/acceptable in his home country is irrelevant. It is NOT LEGAL in the United States of America, he is committing criminal acts against U.S. citizens (coughCORPORATIONScough) and as such deserves to be punished by U.S. law and brought before U.S. courts to face the reckoning. The Wild West days of rampant internet piracy are coming to a rapid end, freetards. Take heed, because the end is nigh as far as you’re freeloading ways go.

/amidoingitright?

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

It’s weird how extradition works in the UK in a “let’s suck up to USA and do everything they say” way. Over here we had a (high profile) case where we asked for the extradition of an individual. We sent them a big list of charges, but only those that were illegal over THERE stuck. So we got him, on the condition that we wouldn’t judge him on those charges that the host country did’t deem illegal.

Anonymous Coward says:

The internet is about sharing, its very foundation is about sharing, its always been about sharing, there are those who wont agree upon what things are shared, but you gotta take the good with the bad, otherwise, you might aswell watch fox news

I wouldnt be to happy being in a skyscraper, knowing, that the foundation is being messed with

Messing with the very foundation of the internet, through ignorance is bad but fixable, messing with the very foundation of the internet, because you’re willing to break it, so long as it still somehow works, but only, in the way you want it to work……….well, your gonna get alot of pissed of longtime internet users

But as much as that miffs me of, its nothing compared to the influence that corporations somehow have on our governments, if the people ask our governments to do something, its a given that we wont be heard, to the point that we’ve stopped asking, but if a corporation asks then everything is hunky dory,

and dont think that doing dealings in secrecy is gonna help ya, we’ll just assume every secret meeting is dodgy deal

Anonymous Coward says:

i see that Egypt are going to criminally prosecute some US citizens. i know the circumstances are different but the good ol’ US is doing the same thing over this as over everything, including file sharing. threaten! do what we want/say, or suffer the consequences! i wonder what the reaction would have been had those citizens been in the US and Egyptian police had gone to extradite them? all hell let loose, i bet!

Michael says:

Re:

“IP extremists are about stealing, their very foundation is about stealing. They steal away our rights and deprive them of them. It’s nothing more than a government sanctioned monopoly designed to stifle competition and limit economic growth.”

Correct. Robbing the public of their rights is actually treasonous behavior and should be treated as such, not to mention openly and brazenly bribing our elected officials. As I’ve said, human rights are being treated as lesser than corporate-created rights. It all stems from greed and corruption. I regard human life as more important than any imaginary idea or artistic/creative work.

MrWilson says:

Global Treaties

“There is no reason why any work should be in the public domain in one nation while still under copyright in another. This is insanity.”

I agree. Unfortunately, the US is the country where the government pretends that leaked government documents don’t exist and won’t allow government workers or even lawyers for defendants make reference to said documents. The cognitive dissonance required for this is a prerequisite for holding government office apparently.

el_segfaulto (profile) says:

Not justice.

As a United Statsian I completely share your outrage. I truly hope that the rest of the world realizes that our government stopped being a voice of its people decades ago. We have given far too much power to soulless corporations and are now reaping the harvest. Every four years we are given a choice between a giant douche and a turd sandwich, neither of which will ever (or could ever) enact any meaningful change. I can’t apologize for anybody other than myself, but I am sorry that this kind of heavy-handed behavior is being conducted in my name.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re:

Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
As many people have said, the situation with O’Dwyer is incredibly stupid, in that for someone to be extradited from UK to US, s/he must have done something that is considered illegal in BOTH countries. As the article above says, what he did is legal in the UK, therefore it doesn’t satisfy the requirements of the extradition treaty – but the US is trying to bring him over anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow, talk about going a long way for nothing. It’s one of those deals where people don’t understand extradition laws, or how people end up getting extradited. If you pay attention to the Megaupload case, you might catch on.

The biggest issue would be “what is the charge?” Most extradition treaties don’t deal with minor offences. It’s one of the reasons the Mega case hinges not on piracy (which might be found to be only civil in nature, or too small of a charge) but rather hinges on various forms of fiscal fraud / money laundering.

The issue of the internet is simple: If you put something online, you are in essence publishing it EVERYWHERE. While the laws and legal actions have still not really caught up with the internet, they are starting to. There is no mythical “internetland” where things are all legal, you are still subject to the laws of your country. This explains why ICE and such are using the “toe in the water” of using a US based domain registry, which gives the sites some direct and simple connection to the US that can be shown as fact in a court of law.

Now, in the case of copyright violation (such as would be suggested in linking to works that are copyright in some places, not in others) you would have to look at the nature of the “infringement”. If it isn’t commercial, there would be no real criminal legal aspect to work from, so the case would be civil, which does not have any extradition support. A lawsuit may be filed and a default judgement granted, but that judgement would be very hard to enforce.

What this discussion brings up is the reasons why there is a need for a more uniform system. As the internet breaks down certain barriers, it also creates liability for those who do not pay attention. The differences between copyright in countries could cause issues.

I think it is an incredible reach and a bit of panic mongering to push this issue so hard, however, as more and more the countries are falling in line with each other.

DogBreath says:

Malpractice?

To present a better example, make it a person who is a licensed doctor in their own country, and they post any medical advice on the web. Since that same medical advice can be accessed by others in countries which they do not hold a license to practice medicine, those other countries can now get them extradited and prosecuted criminally for practicing medicine without a license in the country that feels like being the biggest ass that day.

It doesn’t matter if it is legal for them to practice medicine in their own country. If the country that they are practicing in requires doctors to be licensed, and the country that is asking for extradition and prosecution also requires doctors to be licensed, then the standard of an extradition treaty has been met and it’s about time for that doctor to pay for his/her crime(s) against humanity.

or to put it another way…

To present the best example, make it a person who is a licensed lawyer in their own country, and they post any legal advice on the web. Since that same legal advice can be accessed by others in countries which they do not hold a license to practice law, those other countries can now get them extradited and prosecuted criminally for practicing law without a license in the country that feels like being the biggest ass (or hero in some cases) that day.

It doesn’t matter if it is legal for them to practice law in their own country. If the country that they are currently practicing in requires lawyers to be licensed, and the country that is asking for extradition and prosecution also requires lawyers to be licensed, then the standard of an extradition treaty has been met and it’s about time for that lawyer to pay for his/her crime(s) against humanity.

P.S. To stay out of foreign prisons, lawyers should not have a website, post anything to the internet, use computers, email, cell phones, text messaging, voice mail, give interviews, use copy machines, fax, printers, typewriters (with or without carbon paper), pens, pencils, quills, sign contracts (unless it is using their clients blood) or anything that could ever be possibly be placed online, lest they are seen as giving “legal advice” in a foreign country.

It’s for their own protection after all and we’re only trying to help them (and their children).

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