The admin of TVShack, a British citizen, has been arrested and could face extradition to the United States. TVShack is a links database website that linked to other websites and web pages that hosted alleged copyright infringing content, and the US justice department, spearheaded by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), want the 23 year old admin to face charges in the US.
University student Richard O’Dwyer is the 23 year old in question, is now fighting the extradition charges and represented by the same lawyer as that of Gary McKinnon, a UK hacker who has been fighting extradition to the US for years.
This is not the first time TVShack has been in the sights of ICE. TVShack's original domain name, TVShack.net was first seized by ICE in July of 2010 as part of ICE's Operation In Our Sites. Despite being back days later using a different domain name, TVShack.cc, this domain name was also later seized by ICE.
In November of last year, O'Dwyer was visited by the police, accompanied by American officials, and it was then that O'Dwyer decided that enough was enough, and promptly shut down TVShack. But O'Dwyer was wrong to think this would be the end of the matter, as ICE insists on extraditing the student over to the US so he could face copyright charges, even making O'Dwyer spend a night in UK's notorious Wandsworth prison, due to paperwork delays.
There are are good reasons why ICE wants to try O'Dwyer in the US, instead of in the UK. Unlike real piracy websites, TVShack did not host any content. There exists precedent in the UK, in a case relating to a very similar website, TV-Links, in which the defendants actually walked free, thus providing a defence for websites that merely acted as "conduits", or only contained links to other websites. So if ICE were to prosecute O'Dwyer in England, and Wales, they would fail. Which is why ICE insists on changing the battleground to the more copyright friendly courts of the US.
The puzzling thing is the basis that ICE is seeking to extradite the 23 year old student to the United States. The TVShack website was not hosted in the United States, and apart from the already seized domains, there is nothing that links O'Dwyer to the US, other than the fact that he would be easier to try over there.
Do you think that websites that only contains links to other websites should be held to the same standards as websites that actually hosted pirated content? Post your opinion in this news article's comments section, or in this forum thread: