It appears that the ridiculous saga of the US's baseless criminal case against Richard O'Dwyer is now ending, as O'Dwyer has effectively cut a deal to pay a small sum
in exchange for avoiding extradition and trial in the US. If you don't recall, O'Dwyer, a computer science student, ran TVshack.net, one of the sites that ICE and the DOJ seized during one of their many questionable censorship days, in which they seize domain names, in direct conflict with what the law requires. Then they went the extra step of seeking to extradite
O'Dwyer to face criminal charges in the US. In this case, it was doubly bizarre, because O'Dwyer, a UK citizen, was running a site that was nearly identical to some other sites that had been found to be perfectly legal in the UK -- and one of the pre-requisites for a criminal copyright charge is that the person needs to be willfully violating the law. Given that other comparable sites were found to be legal, it's difficult to see how US officials could meet that bar. There was also the fact that the US was, as it had attempted in the Rojadirecta case, trying to create a completely made up theory of criminal copyright liability for secondary infringement
. In fact, as we noted in other cases, US courts have found that what TVshack was doing was not infringement
The O'Dwyer case continued to get plenty of attention, with widespread protests
in the UK, especially after UK officials approved
his extradition to the US. Now, however, the case will be wrapped up under what's known as "deferred prosecution" in which O'Dwyer will pay a "small sum" and the case will be concluded. You can see why O'Dwyer would do this deal after a year and a half of fighting the extradition. It's also not too surprising that the DOJ would agree to such a deal, given how it ran from other similar cases once it realized that there was competent legal help absolutely decimating its ridiculous legal theories. The DOJ had to realize that it was likely to lose badly even if O'Dwyer was extradited -- so now they get to save face and pretend that O'Dwyer paying a small sum is a form of "victory."
It's good that the case is over and that O'Dwyer can get on with his life, though it's ridiculous that any part of this case ever happened.