British student Richard O’Dwyer has welcomed the end of a US court case following charges over copyright infringement.
O’Dwyer had been threatened with a prison sentence in the US after setting the TVShack website, providing links to pirated films and other content. The 24 year old has now had charges dropped, though the Sheffield student has been ordered to pay a £20,000 fine after appearing in a New York court.
O’Dwyer said that he was relieved that the case had now drawn to an end, adding that he wished the UK government had prevented the legal proceedings from reaching this stage.
“I am very happy that it is finally over with,” O’Dwyer commented to reporters. “I still believe that I never committed any crime. I am very pleased the US government has decided to drop the case against me.”
He added: “It is quite frustrating that [the UK government] didn’t put their foot down at all about the extradition proceeding. I just think they could have done this in the first place.”
His mother, Julia O’Dwyer, who has carried out a campaign to highlight her son’s case, also said that she wished the UK government had stopped proceedings from getting to this stage.
O’Dwyer had faced years in prison over TVShack. It had been alleged that he had profited by over $230,000 from posting links to copyright infringing materials. It was agreed last month that he would voluntarily apear in a US court to face charges.
Another British citizen, Gary McKinnon, was told that he would remain in the UK following a ten year battle against extradition to the US after searching for evidence of aliens on classified American networks. Home secretary Theresa May made the decision to block extradition following a lengthy appeal to keep McKinnon in the UK on health grounds.
However, there has been fierce criticism over the extradition agreement that exists between the UK and the US. MPs have lambasted the arrangement, which is deemed unequal in allowing relatively easy extradition to the US, but not in the other direction.
Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock said that while the case against O’Dwyer has reached a positive conclusion, it shows that there are underlying changes that need to be made to prevent similar instances occurring in future.
“What is disturbing still is that he went under the threat of extradition,” Killock said. “We are still vulnerable to requests under UK law”.
Killock added that there need to be “firm rules” put in place to stop any similar situations.
“We need the law changed,” Killock said. “It is great that he has been able to resolve the case, but it doesn’t mean that others won’t face similar charges in future.”