Campaigners have spoken out against plans to extradite a 23-year-old university student to the United States on suspected copyright infringement charges.
Richard O'Dwyer, who studies at Sheffield Hallam University, has been charged with a number of offences in the US relating to his TVShack website, which offers internet users access to other websites which stream films and television programmes in violation of copyright laws.
The case has stirred up renewed animosity towards the Extradition Act 2003, the piece of law under which Mr O'Dwyer would be removed to the US. Lawyers and human rights campaigners have spoken out against the move, which was sanctioned by magistrates in Westminster last week.
The case concerns a website operated by Mr O'Dwyer. The website offers users access to other web locations where pirated material can be viewed free of charge. None of the pirated material is displayed by the TVShack site itself, it simply acts as a conduit to other sites.
American prosecutors claimed that they can evidence some $230,000 in advertising revenue raised by the site in three years.
Lawyers have claimed that under UK copyright law it is not completely clear whether Mr O'Dwyer has even committed an offence. However, magistrates ruled that there was sufficient evidence that a crime had been committed in another jurisdiction, and that under the terms of the law Mr O'Dwyer could be extradited to face charges.
Should Mr O'Dwyer be found guilty in America, the maximum penalty is five years in jail for each count of piracy.
The case is similar to that of Asperger's syndrome sufferer Gary McKinnon, who hacked into NASA computers looking for evidence of alien life. Mr McKinnon is currently fighting a similar extradition to face charges of computer hacking across the pond.
Critics argue that the treaty is inherently unbalanced. American prosecutors need only outline a case against a UK national to secure their extradition, whilst the UK would need to produce a much higher standard of proof for the Act to work in the opposite direction. The Act was drafted in this way to allow for the speedy extradition of terror suspects, but it is now being used in a wide range of other legal scenarios.
"I'm very disappointed, in fact, I'm disgusted," said Mr O'Dwyer's mother after the hearing.
Last month MPs voted for urgent reforms to the 2003 Act.
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