No British citizen has ever been extradited to the United States for a copyright offense. But Richard O'Dwyer, the 23-year-old college student who ran TV Shack, may become the first.
As I understand it, the charges aren't that his (very popular) site actually hosted the copyrighted content, but that it served as a directory of links to other servers online where those downloads could be found.
Torrentfreak has more on the legal battle. The lawyer for accused hacker Gary McKinnon, whom the US would also like to extradite for prosecution, is representing O'Dwyer. They lost their first round in the extradition case today, and have 14 days to appeal.
Here is a copy of Friday's ruling (PDF).
In this BBC video of a press briefing outside of court today, a reporter asks O'Dwyer if he believes he's done anything wrong by linking people to sites where there is infringing content. "I think you should ask Google the same question," he replies. "[They're doing what I'm doing] on a much grander scale."
I admire his taste in t-shirts to wear to one's day in court.
If you visit any of the domains previously used to host TV Shack, you'll see the US Government notice above, which gives way after a click to this cheesy PSA.
Update: Boing Boing reader Keith Irwin has a great comment in the thread below, with an astute point I neglected to make in the original post:
[T]his sets a terrible precedent. If a UK citizen can be extradited to the US because of the content of their web pages hosted in the UK, why wouldn't US citizens be able to be extradited to Thailand on charges of disrespecting the king or to China for undermining the government by being critical of it? To even press this case at all shows either a fundamental undervaluing of the freedom of speech of everyone, including US citizens, or, more likely, a belief in the most fundamental of American hypocrisies: the idea that the rules that the US applies to the rest of the world shouldn't be applied to the US.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.