Pirate Party Australia Concerned By UK Extradition Ruling

UK Judge Quentin Purdy has approved an extradition request to have a student face charges in the United States. Pirate Party Australia is concerned that such precedents will pave the way for similar cases where Australians may be extradited and tried in the US court system.

“By supporting the baseless US extradition case against Richard O’Dwyer today at Westminster Magistrates Court, the judge Judge Quentin Purdy has failed to inject the much needed shot of rationality into the insanity of the UK-US extradition arrangements we had all hoped for. The Sheffield student is accused of infringing copyright by setting up the popular Netherlands-hosted website TV Shack,” said Loz Kaye, Leader of Pirate Party UK, in a press release yesterday[1].

“TV shack provided a catalogue of links to other sites, with no illegal material available from it at any time. As the server was outside of the US, Richard’s lawyer has pointed out that there is simply no valid reason to send a young British citizen to face a court in the US…Since the 2003 Extradition Act came into force, British citizens have been wrenched from their lives in the UK and extradited to the US on the flimsiest of evidence,” he continued.

Pirate Party Australia urges the Australian Government to protect the rights of its own citizens against the powerful US copyright lobby. Pirate Parties worldwide feel that copyright laws are being abused to promote profits, not culture. The flawed claims of the copyright lobby regarding ‘lost income’ have unfairly biased institutions that should remain impartial, and whimsical litigation is now being used to drive profits higher.

“The [US] Department of Justice has turned into a corporate stormtrooper instead of doing the job they are supposed to do. But what do you expect when it’s staffed with former RIAA lawyers? It’s also a great shame that a UK court has decided to kowtow to this ridiculous extradition request when it’s clear the proper venue would be the UK, where the Crown Prosecution Service has already declined to prosecute,” commented Andrew Norton, spokesperson for the United States Pirate Party.

Mr O’Dwyer was arrested in May 2011 by UK authorities and released on £3000 bail, and is currently facing a possible 5 year prison sentence in the United States, for funding the website with advertising. The service is arguably no different to a search engine such as Google, and potentially puts “anyone who hosts or runs a website at risk for simply sharing a link to a video, some music, a photograph or other media.”[2] This places the owner of blogs that feature advertising and link to videos in a precarious situation.

The extradition order is will now be passed to the UK’s Secretary of State for approval. Once confirmed, Mr O’Dwyer has the right of appeal to the High Court[3].

Kenny Tran, an Australian citizen, was sued late last month by a South Korean company in a US court for copyright infringement. The services Mr Tran used to link people to copyrighted material (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) are operated by Californian companies. This was enough to claim that his operations took place in the United States and therefore fell under US jurisdiction, not Australian or South Korean[4]. This, and the case of Mr O’Dwyer bring into question the concept of sovereignty in terms of international copyright infringement.

“Those accused of committing a crime while on their own national soil should fall entirely within the jurisdiction of that territory. The Australian government owes it to its citizens not to use the same mould as the UK-US extradition agreements. Australian sovereignty is not just to prosecute, it is also to protect. We are capable of running our own legal affairs, and extradition on weak grounds such as ‘copyright infringement’ is mere pandering to foreign interests,” said David Campbell, President of Pirate Party Australia.

[1] http://www.pirateparty.org.uk/press/releases/2012/jan/13/odwyer-us-extradition-go-ahead/
[2] http://www.pirateparty.org.uk/press/releases/2012/jan/13/odwyer-us-extradition-go-ahead/
[3] http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/us-v-odwyer-ruling.pdf
[4] http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111228/03051417211/copyright-tourism-korean-companies-sue-guy-australia-copyright-infringement-california.shtml