Student can be extradited over free film website

A BRITISH student who created a website which helped people watch films and TV shows for free can be extradited to the US to face copyright infringement allegations, a court has ruled.

Sheffield Hallam University undergraduate Richard O’Dwyer, 23, allegedly earned hundreds of thousands of pounds through advertising on the TVShack website before it was closed down by the US authorities.

He faces jail if convicted of the allegations, which were brought following a crackdown by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

His lawyer, Ben Cooper, has argued that the site did not store copyright material and merely pointed users to other sites, in the same way that Google and Yahoo operate.

Mr Cooper also claimed his client would be the first British citizen to be extradited for such an offence and would effectively become a “guinea pig” for copyright law in the US.

His mother, Julia O’Dwyer, from Chesterfield, has described the action as “beyond belief” and Britain’s extradition treaty with the US as “rotten”.

But District Judge Quentin Purdy ruled at Westminster Magistrates’ Court that the extradition could go ahead.

Cooper indicated that he would appeal against the ruling.

O’Dwyer, who wore a grey shirt and blue jeans, showed no emotion as the ruling was made.

His mother said after the hearing: “If they want to prosecute something they will.

“There’s no safeguards here for British citizens.”

She also claimed the district judge did not have the “technical brains to know about the whole thing”. “That guy just lives and breathes extradition,” she added.

The 23-year-old, who says he started the project to improve his computer programming skills and help him get a work placement, did not charge users but sold $230,000 (€181,304) worth of advertising on the site, according to US authorities.

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