Richard O’Dwyer, the UK-based ex-administrator of the video linking website TVShack, will not be extradited to the US to face copyright infringement charges. After a long and hard battle, spearheaded by his mother and supported by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, O’Dwyer struck a deal with the U.S. government. Instead of being extradited the student has signed a “deferred prosecution” agreement which means that he keeps his freedom in exchange for paying compensation to the copyright holders.
Last year Richard O’Dwyer was arrested by UK police for operating TVShack, a website that listed user-submitted link to TV-shows.
The UK student has since fought a looming extradition to the US. In March, Home Secretary Theresa May officially approved the extradition request from US authorities, but today the news broke that O’Dwyer will stay a free man.
The former TVShack administrator signed a deferred judgment agreement with the U.S. authorities, the BBC reports this morning. As a result, O’Dwyer’s extradition is off the table. He will not be prosecuted in the U.S. but has agreed to pay a small sum compensation to the rightsholders.
A high Court Judge was informed that Richard’s mother Julia O’Dwyer will have to travel to the U.S. to complete the deal.
It is unclear why the U.S. decided to accept an agreement, but there is little doubt that the public protests organized by O’Dwyer’s mother and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales played an important role.
Jimmy Wales’ petition alone was signed by more than a quarter million people and was covered widely in the mainstream media.
The MPAA, who are believed to be the prime instigators of the case, were not happy with these campaigns and will probably be disappointed by the deal. A few months ago leaked documents revealed that the movie industry group saw Richard O’Dwyer as a purposeful copyright infringer.
“O’Dwyer was not a mere ‘middleman.’ He profited heavily from this activity. To call him a ‘middleman’ suggests a lack of involvement in the illegal activity, which is simply not the case,” MPAA wrote.
“Being 24, posing for newspaper photo shoots in a cartoon sweatshirt, and having your mother and Jimmy Wales speak for you, does not mean you are incapable for breaking the law,” they added.
UK Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye on his turn welcomes the deal.
“This decision vindicates the Pirate Party’s view that the extradition request was disproportionate and unnecessary all along. It does not remove the underlying problem though. The US can not be allowed to be the copyright cops of the world. I hope that Richard and Julia O’Dwyer will be able to begin to rebuild their lives now,” he says.
Interestingly enough, Richard O’Dwyer is not the only administrator of a TV-linking site to negotiate a deferred judgment agreement.
TorrentFreak has learned that Brian McCarthy is working on a similar deal in part due to his medical condition. The owner of Texas-based sports streaming site ChannelSurfing.net was arrested in March 2011 after he had his domain name seized.
For Richard and his mother Julia today’s news marks the end of an uncertain and hectic period. They are being advised not to comment on the specifics of the deal just yet, but promised TorrentFreak that there will be plenty of news later.