by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 6th 2012 3:06pm
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 28th 2012 9:32am
from the sad-that-it-had-to-come-to-this,-but-good-that-it's-over dept
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.
Tue, Oct 16th 2012 3:02pm
from the hacker-stay-home dept
UK Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that McKinnon will not be extradited due to mental illness and a fear for his safety. McKinnon reportedly suffers from both depression and Asperger's Syndrome, and experts consulting with May believe that he is a significant suicide risk if extradited.
Mrs May said: "After careful consideration of all of the relevant material I have concluded that Mr McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights. I have therefore withdrawn the extradition order against Mr McKinnon."
Mrs May also said measures would be taken to enable a UK court to decide whether a person should stand trial in the UK or abroad - a so-called forum bar.This move is immensely significant, as it represents the first time an extradition was blocked by a Home Secretary under the Extradition Act of 2003. As extraditions over alleged computer and IP crimes have come into vogue, with the United States leading the charge, it's a welcome sign that the UK wants to be able to review cases in which their citizens would potentially be carted across the world to face massive prison sentences (or worse). One would hope similar scrutiny would be applied in the case of Richard O'Dwyer, though Theresa May has thus far failed to do so. Instead, she has so far bowed to the will of the United States and MPAA sock puppetry in extraditing him.
To be clear, none of this suggests that McKinnon will not face a trial at home. In fact, according to May, the UK will now decide whether to bring a case against him at home.
She said it was now for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, to decide whether he should face trial in the UK.Where he can be tried without the added threat to his well-being. A foreign national, accused of computer crimes against the United States facing trial in his home country. How refreshing.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 6th 2012 12:30pm
from the nice-try-guys dept
TorrentFreak, which lately has been on a streak of finding and publishing leaked info from the legacy entertainment industry, has done it again, publishing the MPAA's talking points document for responding to press inquiries about O'Dwyer, the UK college student that the US government is trying to extradite from the UK for running TVShack.net. They also have the MPAA's plans to find sock puppets to attack O'Dwyer. The two documents are from July 19th, so it's quite recent, and they try to respond to Jimmy Wales' recent involvement in trying to stop the extradition process. As with any good propaganda, the MPAA appears to take comments out of context to twist them against O'Dwyer. For example, it quotes that the site reminded people of how much money they were saving by watching free videos, rather than paying for movies. But nothing in that statement says that the videos they were watching were infringing copies -- just substitutes for going to the theater.
The sock puppet document is the really telling one, in that they admit that that the "overall media coverage has been and will continue to be challenging." Now, when pretty much everyone sides with O'Dwyer and against the MPAA, a normal, sane organization might think that its strategy is (perhaps) a mistake. But the MPAA instead decides to double down by trying to find sock puppets to publish blog posts and editorials about why O'Dwyer is a dirty stinking criminal:
To counter these assertions, the MPAA and its allies need a coordinated effort to focus more on the criminal activity involved in the operation of TVShack and other similar linking sites. Ideally, this would be done through third parties – but finding third parties – especially in the United Kingdom – has been very difficult so far, so the MPAA must be prepared to respond to media requests on the issue and set the record straight to counter the misinformation campaign by our opponents.The thing is, the only "misinformation campaign" is coming from the MPAA itself, with these talking points and "how can we get stooges to spin this" document. The folks supporting O'Dwyer have no such things. They just speak the truth.
Furthermore, the documents completely ignore the legal arguments that make the O'Dwyer case incredibly questionable. They, of course, highlight the recent surfthechannel.com ruling in the UK to support the argument that O'Dwyer was breaking the law in the UK and the US. But that ignores the many questions raised by that ruling, and the fact that multiple similar cases went the other way or that similar US cases also seem to be going the other way too (though, that last one came out after this document was written).
There are also some laughable claims about how the decision to go after O'Dwyer was made by Homeland Security and ICE. However, as documents in other cases have shown, ICE relied heavily on claims from the RIAA and MPAA, despite little evidence to support those claims.
Separately, the MPAA weakly tries to hit back on the claims about internet freedom by saying that "this case isn't about Internet freedom. It's about a man profiting from theft." Funny, he hasn't been charged with "theft" as far as I can tell. It seems that the MPAA has trouble with ever being truthful -- even when claiming its providing facts to counter misinformation. And, as the Posner ruling recently showed, being a third party site that has embeds of infringing videos isn't infringing itself -- so arguing that O'Dwyer is some sort of master criminal is pretty laughable.
Then there's this:
Copyright law is a tool to protect the work of creators and makers, not censorshipThey should try to tell that to some of the many people whom copyright has been used to censor over the years. The fact that copyright was supposed to be a tool to protect creators does not mean it can't be used for censorship. It is, regularly. The two things are hardly mutually exclusive. And, if the MPAA were being honest (ha ha, I know...) it would note that it doesn't represent the interests of creators and makers at all. It represents the studios, who do whatever they can to rip off content creators... while keeping the copyright for themselves. If the MPAA wants to spew bogus "talking points," (and get sock puppets to do so for it) perhaps it should start by figuring out how to defend its regular actions that block artists from getting paid.
In the end, though, this just highlights how incredibly tone deaf the MPAA and its communications staff is to public perception. Attacking Richard O'Dwyer, who has strong public support behind him is not a winning strategy by any means. I'm trying to figure out what the MPAA thinks it's accomplishing here and I'm drawing a blank. The more the MPAA seeks to demonize O'Dwyer, the worse it looks. Even if he is extradited and convicted, all they're doing is creating another hero/martyr, and more people who think the MPAA is an old, out of touch, unwilling-to-adapt monster, locking up college students. At best, I'm thinking the MPAA thinks this will act as an "education campaign" targeted at other sites running forums like O'Dwyer's. But that seems doubtful at best. Similar sites are all over the internet and have been for years. All this effort is doing is helping the MPAA dig its own hole deeper and deeper. It's like a perfect case study in how not to do communications strategy today.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 23rd 2012 12:17pm
from the terrrorists-don't-bother-the-MPAA dept
Given all that, it's interesting to see this story, sent over by PressurCookrTheatr, highlighting the kinds of folks that Theresa May and the UK Home Office have refused to extradite over the last few years. It turns out it's a large and growing number, and even includes some terrorists. In those cases, however, May has magically decided that there are "human rights" reasons to keep them in the UK.
- In 2011, at least one terrorist – and possibly up to four – was allowed to stay, as well as up to eight killers and rapists. Also among the total were 20 robbers and up to eight paedophiles, plus as many as four people convicted of firearms offences.
- In 2010, the Home Office conceded in the cases of up to four murderers and up to four people convicted of manslaughter, as well as up to four rapists, up to eight paedophiles and 43 people convicted of violent crime or robbery.
Apparently many of these decisions were made to avoid violating the Human Rights Act. For example, one guy, a Ukrainian accused of running "Britain's biggest sham marriage racket," has avoided extradition because he has two kids in the UK. What O'Dwyer should have been doing, instead of fighting extradition through legal means, was knocking someone up so he had a kid in the UK to convince Theresa May that he should stay.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 6th 2012 10:19am
from the will-of-the-people dept
Only 9% of the British public believe he should face trial in the US for his actions, according to the YouGov research. The largest group, 46%, said O'Dwyer should not be prosecuted at all, while 26% felt he should be tried in the UK.At some point, something has to give. The UK Home Office can't keep pretending that this is a minor issue that it can brush under the rug to keep the American government (and Hollywood) happy.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 3rd 2012 11:29am
from the public-will-be-damned dept
Not yet, it seems.
The UK Home Office is apparently ignoring the petition and sticking with the party (i.e., Hollywood lobbyist) line. The site V3 (linked in the last sentence) reached out to the Home Office who said that they were aware of the petition, but didn't seem to care:
"Richard O'Dwyer is wanted in the US for offences related to copyright infringement," a Home Office spokesman told V3.That said, Jimmy Wales insists that the "low level" spokesperson "is wrong" and he fully expects that the Home Office will, in fact, respond after meeting with him about this issue. Let's hope that's true. Given the large public outcries about other related copyright issues (SOPA, ACTA...) you would think that the UK government would at least be paying attention when a rather large group of the public speaks out on an issue related to copyright. Hopefully, the answer given to V3 was just a spokesperson stalling until the Home Office is ready to officially address the matter.
"The UK courts found there were no statutory bars to his surrender under the Extradition Act 2003 and on 9 March the Home Secretary, having carefully considered all relevant matters, signed an order for his extradition to the US."
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 27th 2012 2:39pm
UK Politician Speaks Out Against The Travesty Of Trying To Deport Richard O'Dwyer To Feed Hollywood's Anger
from the this-would-be-a-mistake dept
"Somewhere behind this case lie the powerful vested interests of the content industry. If they succeed in exercising their lobbying might by forcing the extradition of an able student to face trial in America, it will further undermine public confidence in an important treaty designed to combat terrorism.Of course, it won't just undermine confidence in the extradition treaty, but also in copyright law. After all, O'Dwyer linked to content all over the web, rather than hosting it himself -- and a nearly identical site was already found legal in the UK (which certainly suggests a lack of "willful" infringement, which is necessary for a criminal copyright infringement charge in the US). Either way, it's good to see more high profile people -- especially those in government, realize that the attempt to extradite O'Dwyer is a travesty.
"But let's also be honest about what is going on at the heart of this case: a generation for whom the net is not a 'new' technology are being hung out by an older generation of lawmakers who do not understand the new reality of the connected digital planet.
"Mr O'Dwyer's situation can be sorted out with common sense at the top of the UK government and US administration. But how many more bright youngsters will have their lives turned upside down because we haven't reached a new copyright settlement that understands the internet is here to stay?"
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jun 25th 2012 8:08am
from the speak-up dept
Wales recently met with O'Dwyer and learned the details of the story, and was quite reasonably horrified:
Wales has set up an online petition addressed to the UK government seeking to stop the extradition of O'Dwyer. Who knows if it will actually have any impact, but getting more people to speak out about this ridiculous overreach by ICE and the Justice Department would be a good thing.
Given the thin case against him, it is an outrage that he is being extradited to the US to face felony charges. No US citizen has ever been brought to the UK for alleged criminal activity on US soil. There is a disparity here that ought to raise concerns at the highest levels of government in both the US and UK.
From the beginning of the internet, we have seen a struggle between the interests of the "content industry" and the general public. Due to heavy lobbying and much money lavished on politicians, until very recently the content industry has won every battle. Internet users handed the industry its first major defeat earlier this year with the epic Sopa-Pipa protests over planned copyright laws that culminated in a widespread internet blackout and 10 million people contacting the US Congress to voice their opposition.
O'Dwyer is the human face of that battle, and if he's extradited and convicted, he will bear the human cost.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Apr 19th 2012 9:06am
from the sad dept
Apparently, Facebook doesn't want you discussing any of that.
The Guardian's James Ball wrote an interesting article about how some UK politicians are fighting to stop the extradition. It's a good article. But, you won't find out about it on Facebook apparently. The story details how Tim Farron, president of the LibDems, in the UK has called the extradition approval "ludicrous" and has asked the government to reconsider.
However, as James Losey discovered, Facebook won't let you post about it -- calling the article "spammy or unsafe." Specifically, it appears that (as with TPB) Facebook is blocking any and all mention of TVShack.net. However, Facebook's spam implementation is so stupidly programmed that it can't figure out that this is a story about TVShack.net in the well-respected Guardian newspaper, and not a direct link to TVShack.net. And, of course, merely linking to TVShack.net isn't against the law, so it's bizarre, obnoxious and stupid for Facebook to be blocking all such links in the first place. Finally, since the US government seized TVshack.net nearly two years ago, I don't think the site is really that unsafe any more, unless you don't trust the government to keep its server clean (which, actually, might be reasonable).