We were asked to assist Richard O’Dwyer, the 23yr old Sheffield Hallam University student who faced prosecution in the US for copyright infringement.
Bell Yard assisted Richard and his family in exposing the ongoing and very real danger of extradition that arises from the disproportionate and unnecessary pursuit of British citizens by the US Department of Justice. We also continue to demonstrate the lack of protection in the UK’s legislation against such wide-ranging extra-territorial reach.
Richard was alleged to have infringed the copyright of the Motion Picture Association of America by setting up a website (TVShack.net) which directed visitors to sites on the internet where they could download US tv shows and films for free. However, European case law suggests that by merely acting as a conduit, a website cannot be held to be infringing copyright.
Richard and his mother, with Bell Yard’s assistance, raised further awareness of the one-sided and unfair nature of Britain’s extradition legislation. To that end, Bell Yard established a website www.friends-extradited.org. Richard was supported by the founder of Wikipeadia, Jimmy Wales, and the UK’s Guardian newspaper. In November 2012 he eventually secured a deferred prosecution agreement with the DoJ with a promise not to attempt to infringe copyright and in return for a fine and no term of imprisonment, in lieu of extradition.