Want to understand just how insane things may get under SOPA/PIPA? Just take a look at what's already happening
under today's laws. Back in 2010, one of the first websites that Homeland Security's ICE (Immigrations & Customs Enforcement) group seized
was TVShack.net. TVShack was a site that collected links
to TV shows. Certainly, many of those shows were likely to be infringing -- but TVShack did not host the content at all, it merely linked to it. Richard O'Dwyer, the guy who ran the site, was a student building an interesting project over in the UK. However, the US Department of Justice decided that he was not only a hardened criminal, but one who needed to be tried on US soil. Thus, it began extradition procedures
. Even worse, nearly identical sites in the UK had already been found legal
-- with the court noting that having links to some infringing content was certainly not criminal copyright infringement. That makes things even more ridiculous, because extradition is only
supposed to be allowed for activities that are criminal in both the US and the UK.
But, seriously, think about how insane this is. With all the problems in the world, the US was spending time trying to extradite a UK student to the US, because he set up a site that had links to some infringing material. Is this really the best use of US law enforcement's time?
O'Dwyer has been fighting the extradition attempt... but today, unfortunately, a UK judge ruled against him
District Judge Purdy said in his ruling: "There are said to be direct consequences of criminal activity by Richard O'Dwyer in the USA albeit by him never leaving the north of England.
"Such a state of affairs does not demand a trial here if the competent UK authorities decline to act and does, in my judgment, permit one in the USA."
He added: "I reject all challenges advanced to this request. No bars or other challenge being raised or found, I send the case to the Secretary of State."
O'Dwyer can and almost certainly will appeal this decision. But this is just ridiculous. And this is under existing laws. Just think what happens under SOPA/PIPA -- which are even more targeted at foreign sites. Do we really want the US government going around the world, dragging kids from their homes and taking them back to the US to throw them in jail... because they set up a web page with some links on it?