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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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2012 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: Let's play their game....

    What? Embalance is a perfectly cromulent word.

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