Jimmy Wales petitions against extradition of Richard O’Dwyer
Richard O’Dwyer, 24, is to be extradited from the U.K. to the U.S. on copyright charges. Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia has started a petition against this.
reported on March 14 that the U.S. had won its case to extradite Richard O'Dwyer to the U.S. to face trial for operating a U.K.-based website linking to copyright materials.
The United States
claims that the website infringed on American copyright legislation by linking to copyright protected material. O’Dwyer’s website, TVShack.com, sold advertising space and, according to American officials, netted more than $230,000 before American agents first shut it down. It provided users with links to other websites which would take visitors to external and unaffiliated pages. These pages often streamed copyrighted material including American television programs, which are protected by U.S. law.
O'Dwyer's website was completely legal in the U.K., where he has lived all his life. All O’Dwyer did was to manage a website that contained links to other websites, something his attorney says is on pretty much on par with the services Google offers.
O'Dwyer lost his appeal
against the extradition and faces up to 10 years in prison for these alleged copyright offences.
Now Jimmy Wales is taking up the case. The Wikipedia founder has, at the time of writing, 81,578 signatures on a petition to save O'Dwyer
from extradition to the U.S. on copyright infringement charges.
Once a petition gets 100,000 signatures, they are considered for parliamentary debate.
Wales feels that O'Dwyer's extradition is a test case for copyright censorship laws, and wants the U.K. Home Secretary, Theresa May, to step in and save O'Dwyer.
in the petition, “O'Dwyer is not a U.S. citizen, he's lived in the U.K. all his life, his site was not hosted there, and most of his users were not from the U.S. America is trying to prosecute a U.K. citizen for an alleged crime which took place on U.K. soil.”
Wales refers to Richard O’Dwyer as the “human face of the battle between the content industry and the interests of the general public.”
He added that “copyright is an important institution, serving a beneficial moral and economic purpose” – but it does not mean that “we should abandon time-honored moral and legal principles to allow endless encroachments on our civil liberties in the interests of the moguls of Hollywood.”
Even British MPs feel that the extradition treaty as a whole is unfair and are demanding that it be overhauled. Tory MP Dominic Raab has found damning evidence that the extradition agreement between the U.K. and the U.S. is lopsided. He found that the U.K. has sent more British nationals to the U.S. in the past six months than the U.S. has handed over to Britain in the last seven years.
Since 2004, 35 British nationals have been extradited to the U.S. while only seven U.S. citizens have been extradited to the U.K. Bearing in mind that the U.S. has a population of 311 million, which is 5 times greater than that of the U.K.'s 62 million, this is a huge disparity.
In the case of extradition from the U.S., the U.K. has to provide U.S. authorities with “such information as would provide a reasonable basis to believe that the person sought committed the offence for which extradition is requested.”
However, if U.S. authorities want to extradite a U.K. citizen, authorities only need to state the offence, provide an accurate description of the suspect and specify the punishment as set out in US statute.
The act was passed by the Labour party in 2003 and is currently being reviewed by the Home Secretary.
O'Dwyer must hope that Wales gets 100,000 or more signatures on his petition, and then he may possibly have a chance of a Parliamentary debate on the issue. If readers would like to support the petition it can be accessed here