In December 2007, UK citizen Richard O’Dwyer established the TVShack site. TVShack did not contain any copyrighted files but actually linked to illegal contents stored on third party owned websites. As such, the site was not hosting illegal contents (as MegaUpload did). Nevertheless, it was a facilitator as it helped to locate illegal contents. This site soon became a success. The US authorities estimate that it made about $230,000 of advertisement. The site was among the first ones that were strike by Immigration and Customs Enforcement domain seizure strategy.
In May 2011, the US Justice Department asked for the extradition of Richard O’Dwyer under the two charges of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and criminal infringement of copyright. The defense of O’Dwyer argued that the extradition was not valid because TVshack servers were not hosted in the US. On January 2012, an English judge ruled that O’Dwyer could be extradited to US. On March, UK home secretary Theresa May approved the extradition. Of course, soon an appeal against the extradition was presented.
In June, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, launched an online campaign to collect signatures to stop the extradition. The site has already collected more than 237,000 signatures. Recently, Theresa May confirmed that she will not reverse her decision, regardless of the potential success of the online petition. We will have to wait for the result of the appeal in the coming months.
As I am not a lawyer, I will not comment on the (il)legality of this extradition. Clearly, the US authorities try through such actions (like for Megaupload) to demonstrate that:
- No country is safe if you are infringing copyright on US industry
- Even facilitating copyright infringement can be prosecuted