When Richard O’Dwyer was 19 years old he set up TVShack.net. An online directory which linked to hundreds of websites who provided popular films and TV series for online streaming. The website was a huge success, he began accepting advertising and then the US Justice Department seized the domain June 2010 for “violations of Federal criminal copyright infringement laws”.
What came to follow was a series of heavy handed events which included police visits, IT equipment being seized and then finally a request for Richard to be extradited to the US under the Extradition Act 2003. Today TVShack.net exists as a US Justice Department warning, followed by a rather ethically muddled video attempting to explain copyright infringement ethics.
The path of Richard O’Dwyer isn’t that of a criminal, he isn’t a “data pirate”, instead he is simply an undergraduate student. It is common for many IT literate students to spend time on various website projects (I’ve had around eight different ones). This is a student who has never visited the US, owned a website which did not host any copyright content but is being processed for extradition by the UK government.
Not only has he not committed a US crime but the crime wasn’t even committed in the US! Essentially Richard O’Dwyer has become a scapegoat for those industries who have been suffering in the digital era. Not because online file sharing exist but because they have not yet perfected a business model that can cope with the technicalities of online sharing.
Although I don’t wish for my reasons against Richard O’Dwyer to be miss construed. He is not a file sharer. TVShack.net existed to hyperlink copyrighted material but based on other websites. Thus fulfilling the same function (but less sophisticated) as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Search engines all link to copyright material but are we seeing these giants in court?
Instead Richard O’Dwyer is fast becoming another causality in the “war against piracy”. A confused notion, commonly voiced by those who have little understanding of the digital age.
You can petition against the extradition of Richard O’Dwyer by adding your signature to change.org. So far 219,517 have shown their support. Despite this the UK Home Office has openly suggested to ignore the petition and bend over for America.