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Copyright wars heat up: US wins extradition of college kid from England (arstechnica.com)
198 points by glogla 1870 days ago | hide | past | web | 94 comments | favorite



The current political and legal sell-out to the US makes me, and I believe many fellow-Europeans, increasingly angry in a way that is fundamentally different from any anti-American feelings for instance during the Bush-years.

Disagreeing with US foreign policy is one thing, but being on the receiving end of US meddling through political and legal corruption in a way that undermines our civil rights cuts way deeper.


It makes many Americans increasingly angry as well.


USA acts like they own the world, and they must be stopped.

See also: USA prison industrial complex figures out how to break into the international market.


It wouldn't be possible if you government didn't cooperate. They're just as much to blame in this case.


that's exactly what rickmb is talking about. he says

> sell-out to the US


The extradition treaty between the US and UK is massively unbalanced - the UK needs proof to extradite an American, the US only needs suspicion to extradite a Brit.


Not according to this finding by the UK Govt: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15351357

"But Sir Scott's 486-page report finds: "In our opinion, there is no significant difference between the probable cause test and the reasonable suspicion test."

"There is no practical difference between the information submitted to and from the United States."


You mess with a US copyright maffia, your judge gets bribed you go to jail in the US where you have no means of defending yourself. Makes me think the US is no different from all those neo-communist governments in Europe.


Remember PG saying in a recent essay that you start an innovative product by luring the hackers first? I think the same applies to ideas, as exemplified by the RFS to Kill Hollywood.

Well, so here is a great way the US is luring the world talent: By alienating the smart people with brainless and predatory policies like this.

Don't host your startup with a US company or at a European data center belonging to a US company (e.g. AWS or Linode in Ireland). And preferably not in a country that is a US copyright/IP colony (UK, AU, NZ, CA). Otherwise you're putting your users and yourself in danger.


Attacking these policies by boycotting US companies seems much to indirect to result in much progress. Instead, petition your (their) own elected governments to bring change. If people are sufficiently outraged, then change should come. If not, then its up to you to educate your fellow citizens.


If people are sufficiently outraged, then change should come. If not, then its up to you to educate your fellow citizens.

This is an utterly useless truism.

How do you fire up a significant portion of you fellow citizens over copyright issues is the question. Stating, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Just do it." does not help in any way.


> How do you fire up a significant portion of you fellow citizens over copyright issues is the question.

Talk to your local pirate party. Join them. Vote for them.


Talk to your local pirate party. Join them. Vote for them.

...and find yourself the subject of outspoken and unspoken discrimination for your political affiliations. Hollywood "owns" the word "pirate." It's too easy for them to make up some story about how all pirate party members are simply criminals looking to justify their evil, greedy theft of content. Most people will stop listening and join in the hatred as soon as an authority figure gives someone an easy-to-dismiss label like "pirate" or "criminal."


The UK made a nice gift to the US on the eve of Cameron's visit.


The trouble with this is that if the US has a legitimate claim on him, then so does every other country in the world, since they're all on the Internet too. And it isn't reasonable for me to be on the Internet and be expected to comply with the laws of all the countries in the world all at once.

Or is there something specific apart from being on the Internet that gives the US some kind of special claim on him?


Only that US has this kind of extradition treaty with UK. But I assume US has it with many other countries, too.

Extradition should only happen for the most vicious of the crimes or for war crimes in my opinion, and it should go both ways. But extradition for copyright infringement? That's pretty ridiculous, especially when they have to extradite that country's own citizen.


This is completely out of hand now. The US is now a country where you are guilty until proven innocent.

It is disgusting to see domain seizures with no concrete basis of doing so. This kid is being extradited to the US because his website provided links to TV shows?

"Copyright infringers" are treated with less dignity and respect than mass murderers and rapists.


>This is completely out of hand now. The US is now a country where you are guilty until proven innocent.

Am I missing something? Has he been found guilty? Why is an extradition the same thing as being "guilty until proven innocent"? By definition, extradition is before a trial has occurred. After he has been extradited is when the trial will occur.


So his domains and servers are seized while the "investigation" is pending?

The UK could've done their part and stopped this from happening in the first place. They are way out of bounds stepping over into other countries to pursue legal action for this. The site wasn't operated in the US. Who was threatened by a link site? There's much bigger fish in the sea of copyright infringement.

SOPA and PIPA may have gotten shelved, but this just proves US will do what it wants anyway.


When the extradition process is started, it is because the relevant authorities have already decided the individual is guilty. Otherwise, they would not bother spending so much time and effort trying to apprehend him. Juries are invariably biased against foreigners, so the chances of an acquittal are basically zero.


>When the extradition process is started, it is because the relevant authorities have already decided the individual is guilty.

So, what is the right approach? Start the extradition process when you don't believe the individual is guilty? I would hope not. Taking action to bring someone to trial because you believe they are guilty is entirely different from the claim that in the US you are now "guilty until proven innocent".

Presumption of innocence means that the burden of proof is on the prosecution in the trial. It does not mean that the prosecution is required to not believe themselves that the individual is guilty.


>Back in June 2010, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized O'Dwyer's tvshack.net domain name after a closed, one-sided hearing before a judge.

That shows they believed he is guilty before a trial. It was a linking site, he wasn't hosting anything. Google aids in copyright infringement as people use their service every day to find download links to things. But they are fine? The legislation in place across the globe is not equipped to handle these types of cases. Combine that with ignorant octogenarian judges, equals one messed up "justice" system.


> That shows they believed he is guilty before a trial

if "they" refers to the prosecution: well, i sure hope that the prosecution believes he is guilty before a trial starts. i think the alternative is that the prosecution prosecutes people at random?

if "they" refers to the judge: definitely not. seizures like this are because they have evidence against him and have what the judge believes to be a reasonable case; this does not mean the judge believes the defendant to be guilty. maybe you don't think the case is reasonable, and maybe its not, but its a far cry from "guilty until proven innocent"


A "one-sided" hearing where the offending party has zero chance of defending themselves.

Totally legit.


> When the extradition process is started, it is because the relevant authorities have already decided the individual is guilty

what's the alternative? you try the guy in absentia (which would actually be an illegal trial in the united states) and then extradite him afterwards? never extradite anyone?

> Juries are invariably biased against foreigners, so the chances of an acquittal are basically zero.

there is absolutely zero evidence for this statement; you just pulled it out of your ass.


This is true of every prosecution. Prosecutors don't move forward with trials they think they'll lose. Nobody has time for that.

The judge that will hear this trial, on the other hand, will not have already made up their mind.


In many ways, the extradition itself is already the sentence.


Rape and murder victims just don't have any pull, I guess.


That ARS writeup is pretty one-sided.

I love how they paint him up as a poor student, and don't mention the $250,000+ he made off the site. This was absolutely not just piracy, but PROFITING from piracy.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/9013803/Student-R...


From the article:

“If they can come for Richard they can come for anyone.”

The whole point of the social compact is that the state is supposed to protect it's citizens. That's the quid pro quo that legitimizes statehood. If a country extradites one of it's citizens after finding insufficient reason to prosecute, that's an entirely different quid pro quo.


How was the money made? Ads? Google has ads and finding a video of any show on there is pretty easy. They are also profiting from infringement.

In the end I just don't get why linking is why if what he did is not it's not illegal where he is he could still be extradited even if he never had servers in the US and never promoted directly to Americans (I'm assuming he didn't go out and ask Americans to his site). Thing is, if his site was in French I would be there would be no case for extradition.


Yes, ads.

It's a difference of attitude.

I found a snapshot of their site, here are a few bits from their FAQ:

" Also, please keep in mind that you're watching videos for free as opposed to spending over 20 dollars at the movie theater or purchasing a show. This should help you put things in perspective (keep in mind that prices change but this is a normal, typical price). " ... snipped price list ... "So, as you see, you're saving quite a lot of money (especially when putting several visits to the theater or seasons together) by having to wait a little bit of time. "

Their main listing page is broken up into genres, which shows they were aware of the nature of their content, and includes heading that indicate the source of the content: "Movies" "TV" "Anime", etc. They don't even make an effort to hide what they are doing. Their submission page mentions "Copying the name of the show exactly as it is on imdb".

As for the issue of linking, it's a red herring here. This was not some neutral site linking to random, user submitted comment. This was a curated collection. They knew _exactly_ what they were doing.


"As for the issue of linking, it's a red herring here. This was not some neutral site linking to random, user submitted comment. This was a curated collection. They knew _exactly_ what they were doing." I get that this probably falls into the guilty mind(Mens rea) concept but I still don't find it correct that the act of linking to copyrighted material or not(well to be accurate, it's all copyrighted anyway) can be illegal based on context and the attitude of the person who created that <a>


What if you put it in more physical terms.

If someone went around passing out a list of people in your community who leave their back door unlocked, would you have a problem with that? After all, they're only "linking" to potential robbery victims, not actually robbing them.

Edit: From their About page: "TV Shack™ was launched December 2007 by a handful of Swedish university students as a place to watch movies & television online by way of linking to video hosting sites across the web. ... 2009 is set to be a massive sea of change in online video viewing. TV Shack™ has set itself a target of being in the top 1,000 visited websites globally by the end of the year 2009, this will leave it perfectly placed to become an essential stop for the ever growing online video user base."

Under the English interpretation of mens rea, this would seem to fall under the strictest level:

"Direct intention: the actor has a clear foresight of the consequences of his actions, and desires those consequences to occur. It's his aim or purpose to achieve this consequence"


I would not have a problem with that (or don't think it should be illegal at least). Get rid of the source, not the messenger. In my opinion something such as that should fall under free speech.


Lots of things that are free speech are not legal. The very concept of Free Speech only refers to government infringement of your rights.


My understanding is that the crime he's allegedly committing is against US based businesses that own the copyrights he is infringing upon, thus he can be extradited (assuming the home country cooperates, but given the treaties in place it's hard to imagine they wouldn't except in very extreme cases).


So why couldn't the UK prosecute him? Why should he be prosecuted under the laws of a country that is not his own?

The problem with the internet is that we're fast becoming subject to the laws of every country. I mean, that one guy almost got put to death by Iran...


Apart from the general ridiculousness of the US extraditing copyright infringers but not pedophiles:

Do the Brits really not have any outrage over this? If the PRC successfully extradited an American for some real or imagined digital crime (say, building and hosting the website of a designated terrorist organization), we'd be in an uproar.

At least, I hope we would...


No.

Sorry, Im off in to rant mode:

Us Brits just sit there and take this nonsense. If we protest or even riot, then its just merely criminals and that's that. Any "reasons" become mere "excuses", and thus dismissed. As a nation we are quite happy to sleep walk in to almost anything. Of course, when we do protest on mass, say, over 1,000,000 people marching against the Iraq war, we are just simply ignored.

We have our own SOPA on the way, possibly worse. It will sail through. Im sure we will soon have special chartered extradition planes making daily flights to ship people over to the US. The return flights will of course be empty.

Heh, just to keep Hollywood's out dated and obsolete business model in tact. Yup, the US government will prop up Hollywood using US tax payers money in the legal system. Nice little "socialist" hand out right there.

And we will still do nothing.

OK. Feel better now.


Brits have been complaining about this ever since the treaty was signed. I think generally we're currently more concerned about changes to our health system.

Plus the USA is hardly the PRC.


Actually, given the harshness of the penal system in every aspect including their plea-bargaining facet, the US may as well be the PRC compared to the EU. Also, like the PRC, the US has the death penalty.

Separately, there should be a public interest requirement on extraditions, whether by treaty or otherwise, just like there is on all other parts of the UK justice system.

This is a travesty to the individuals involved in this and many other UK-to-US extraditions and yet another embarrassment to the UK.


Ironically, if he did face the death penalty then he wouldn't be extradited.


> Plus the USA is hardly the PRC.

Yeah, guess which of the two has more inmates per capita.


Yeah and its not like the USA does barbaric stuff like execute people.


Guess he should have gone to Switzerland like Roman Polanski did.


How about we recommend Denmark to start extraditing people to Iran and Saudi Arabia for Muhammad cartoons? I'm sure it's possible to find a nexus there, if that's all it takes.


Further proof, as if we needed any more, that the current extradition treaty is a total mess. There's been some publicity recently around it, which might mean that one day this gets fixed so this doesn't get inflicted on more people in the future, but that's cold comfort to this poor bloke.

The concept of extraditing someone to face trial in another country with a possibility of jail for 10 years simply for running a website that links to copyrighted content is just sick. I would have to think pretty hard to come up with a crime less damaging than copyright infringement, and destroying a young person's life over that is a terrible thing.


At what point will non-US websites just start blocking US-based traffic all together? I suppose one day in the future the US will be like an island on the internet - disconnected from other country's websites due to situations like this.


There is too much money involved it that.


That won't always be the case as more and more people around the world come online. If the US continues on a SOPA/ACTA/PIPA path I could see some internet companies blocking them in the same way that a lot of companies don't do business in China.


I doubt that. The vast majority of non-US websites has very little to lose from blocking US traffic. And I'm not talking minor sites either.


"The vast majority of non-US websites has very little to lose from blocking US traffic."

Also: The vast majority of non-US websites have very little to gain from blocking US traffic


> Also: The vast majority of non-US websites have very little to gain from blocking US traffic

That's not true at all. Non-US websites will gain the ability to not have to follow US law, and not risk being extradited for doing so.


Wrong. The vast majority of websites don't break US law. Not because they went out of their way to avoid it, but because they simply don't. These sites don't have anything to gain by blocking the US. Ergo, quite clearly, the vast majority of non-US websites have nothing to gain from blocking US traffic. Nothing at all.


> The vast majority of non-US websites has very little to lose from blocking US traffic.

Yes, but US websites comprise the vast majority of top websites on the Internet....


I'm not sure I understand the "nexus" part. Does it means the judge ruled that he specifically targeted the USA with his website instead of it being just a consequence of them being just another country in the internet? The quote from judge seem to imply the later. What exactly does this mean?


It means that the judge is an idiot. The guy didn't have any nexus -- but my guess is that it was primarily american tv shows that were shared.


He's saying that since the site was accessible in the US that it affected the US, so, consequently the extradition was approved.


The kid made $230,000 by helping users view copyrighted material they did not pay for. That sounds pretty jail worthy to me. It is however strange that he's being extradited and I generally oppose individuals "being made an example of". I'd much prefer he go through the UK system than the US.


> The kid made $230,000 by helping users view copyrighted material they did not pay for. That sounds pretty jail worthy to me.

In your country.

FTFY.


If I recall correctly he didnt break any laws in the UK.


Correct because in the UK members of parliament are not elected to represent the complete morons at the MPAA and RIAA.


that's not what the judge thought. from the article in the telegraph:

> The defence believed its strongest argument against extradition was that Mr O'Dwyer had not committed an offence under British law

> However, Judge Purdy rejected the argument


I read that to mean the judge is not saying he broke British laws, just that not breaking British laws is not a valid argument.


i don't think your reading is correct. one of the basic principles of extradition agreements is that the law broken has to apply in both countries


> The kid made $230,000 by helping users view copyrighted material they did not pay for. That sounds pretty jail worthy to me.

Sounds like an entrepreneur to me.


Sure he made a lot of money doing it but he just posted links. How is this different from Google (or any other search engine)?


it is different in those ways:

* google has established business with presence in most countries where it does pay a huge tax. therefore this fact that they feed a government/police system alone makes them less vulnerable for through investigations

* google has tens of thousands employees and it would be very difficult to prosecute an individual. Given 150 engineers worked on google search engine to display links, would you want to see all of them behind bars? that would be bigger trial than Nurnberg's.

I dont agree with any of what I wrote. But unfortunately thats just the way it is -- to big to prosecute :( Basically there is no difference between Google and any other web to search and find links. Try to type any movie name using dot instead of space and add "torrent" [1]

[1] https://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=vanilla.sky+torrent&...


Are you actually asking or is it rhetorical?

Search engines contain automatic references to, roughly speaking, the entire internet (minus explicitly blocked content). The search engine is used to obtain a vast amount of knowledge by a vast number of people. It will link copyright infringing material at a low percentage rate.

TVShack on the other hand is used exclusively to link to copyright infringing material. It's used for a very singular purpose at a near one hundred percent rate.

IANAL in any country so I can't say what, if any, legal difference exists. Practically speaking the difference is rather straight forward. One entity (TVShack) exists for the exclusive purpose of linking copyrighted material and one does not.


The difference between the two is obvious but at a very basic level all TVShack did was provide links. I can't see why linking to content should ever be illegal. And I think this is another case where they are just trying to make an example of someone. If they actually cared about copyright infringement they would go after the companies hosting the content he linked to.


So if he added a couple of links to free movies would that have saved him? I dont see your argument here.


Absolutely disgusting, shame on the US


No, shame on the UK. All they had to do is say "No". (Well, shame on the US as well).


As a Brit, I'm ashamed of the UK government and once again disgusted by the US government.


The main dispute of the US-UK extradition agreement derives from the fact the US has to show 'reasonable suspicion' however the UK has to show 'probable cause'.

However some argue there is no difference namely Sir Scott Baker who's reports stated: "In our opinion there is no significant difference between the probably cause test and the reasonable suspicion test"

However, critics of the treaty say it is much easier to extradite people from the UK than the US because the US does not need to present evidence to a British court.

Conversely, the UK must provide "sufficient evidence to establish probable cause" in order to secure the extradition of an American citizen.

The other argument is the agreement was post 9-11 for the speedy extradition of terrorists but between 2003 and 2009 only one of 63 extraditions were terrorists.

To be honest I don't really know whether the extradition agreement is one sided, I feel it might have something to do with the respective cases being so high profile.

Perhaps the UK's punishment of crime in comparison to the US is also an issue, sentence lengths in the UK generally tend to be a lot less.


From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16024278

"between January 2004 and July 2011 there were 130 requests by the US for people to be extradited from the UK, compared with 54 requests from the UK to the US."

"the US had never denied a UK extradition request"


And this was all because the guy put a few links on his site...The power of these trolls is getting scary, they can bribe anyone it seems.


What bothers me is the way British governments, regardless of which party is in power, never ever back the British people. They almost cant wait to sling them off to who ever wants us. Our governments never back the people at all. What ever the trouble, you are one your own, they dont want to know.

In contrast, while I dislike the way the US seems to expect to pluck any world citizen it likes to gamble in its disturbing who can afford the best lawyer lottery legal process, it's government will fight tooth and nail for its citizens.


It bothers me too (especially this case), but i think it's relevant to note that the US has never refused an extradition to the UK, but the UK has refused several to the US.

OTOH, the US has made more requests, and capital punishment.


For those that think USA only tackles people profiting from copyright infringement, there's this person extradited from Australia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hew_Griffiths

It's likely you'll deal with USA due to American copyrighted content (Hew Grifftiths), Americans visiting the website (Gambling precedent), profit or altruism, they can come after you depending on extradition treaties and the local government's support of USA.

Join the Pirate Party in your area to outlaw domain seizures among other issues. To protect your current/future business as well other entrepreneurs. No other political party is doing this to my knowledge.


This could be very serious for UK programmers.

Are you sure that no code you've written infringes on US patents? Or is used on a website that encourages the wrong type of copyright infringement?


"Are you sure that no code you've written infringes on US patents? Or is used on a website that encourages the wrong type of copyright infringement?"

You seem to be implying that if a UK programmer writes some code, and then somebody goes and uses that code for copyright or patent infringement, they are at risk of being extradited to the US... Nothing like that has ever happened and it bares no resemblance to the article under discussion.


I'm implying both that, or that I distribute some software that infringes a US patent. How do we know that the overreaching arm of US corporations won't try to sue some little guy in the UK over this?


LOL, the UK is a US colony now.

I can hear History rolling on the floor with laughter.


Only if you're ignorant of the facts.

http://london.usembassy.gov/gb140.html

"The United States has not denied a single extradition request from the UK under the treaty. While the U.S. does send more extradition requests to the UK than it receives, this difference is largely due to the differences in the size of the respective populations. The panel report notes that the U.S. has a population about five times the size of the UK, but there have been fewer than twice the number of people extradited to the U.S. than to the UK. The number of U.S. requests is not disproportionate."


"this difference is largely due to the differences in the size of the respective populations. The panel report notes that the U.S. has a population about five times the size of the UK, but there have been fewer than twice the number of people extradited to the U.S. than to the UK."

What? That seems extremely nonsensical to me.

Wouldn't one reasonably expect the number of extradition requests to a country to be proportional to the number of people in that country, not the number of people in the country doing the extraditing?

(edit: italics)


I would expect it to be relative to the chance of a crime being committed by a citizen of one country to the other. Maybe Americans are more likely to be the "victim" of crimes from people in the UK than the other way round. Maybe the US just cares more about certain crimes than the UK does.

The numbers of extraditions in both directions is so small that you can't reasonably declare that there is any sort of imbalance happening. You can argue that the terms are unfair, but not the way they're being implemented.

On the other hand, there are clearly individual cases that are just wrong. This one is a perfect example. Which is why it's getting all this attention.


The numbers are no excuse in case of a person that did not break UK law.

How about your country signs an extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia and you get extradited and have your head chopped off for having a beer, since alcohol is illegal in SA? (Yes, an absurd stretch, but you get the point.)


> a person that did not break UK law

the judge believes he broke UK law. from the telegraph article:

> The defence believed its strongest argument against extradition was that Mr O'Dwyer had not committed an offence under British law, because TVShack did not itself host copyright material. European law says no crime is committed if a website acts as a “mere conduit”.

> However, Judge Purdy rejected the argument from Mr O’Dwyer’s barrister, Ben Cooper of Doughty Street Chambers, because of the control the student had over what links were posted on TVShack.net and TVShack.cc.


So that's it? If a judge believes it, then it must be true! He's not even a proper judge!


> So that's it?

not really. he gets to appeal.

> If a judge believes it, then it must be true!

who else do you expect to enforce laws? the better question is, do you know anything about british law? why do you think your interpretation of british copyright law is better than the judge's?

> He's not even a proper judge!

i'm not sure what you mean by this.


Your statement is not contrary to anything I said, or think, so I feel no need to argue in response.


This kid may well have listened to PG to his peril.

Normally there is no advice he gives that is bad, but his "KILL HOLLYWOOD" and convoluted stance on copyright might make you think that reality is on your side. It is not.

This fantasy that all movies should be free on the internet is beyond retarded, it is actually hazardous to your freedom, if you try to profit from it.

Did he really think he was going to make a quarter million with no consequences?

Time to put away childish things.




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