The United States government is currently trying to extradite a 24-year-old British citizen, Richard O’Dwyer, to the U.S. for creating a site that linked to - but never hosted - online videos. It's another example of the federal government and Hollywood's antiquated sharing-equals-piracy mentality and their ongoing efforts to criminalize the same kind of activity that happens on Google, Facebook and Twitter every day. The case is so outlandish that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and various politicians and celebrities are stepping in to defend O’Dwyer.
In 2007 when O’Dwyer was 19, he created TVShack.net, a small website frequented mostly by Brits which acted as a crowd-sourced search engine for film, documentary and TV show content found on the Web. Users would post links to the content, some of which was illegally uploaded to the Internet, but the site itself did not host any videos; it was more of a forum like Reddit than a video platform like YouTube.
When sent a takedown notice for linking to copyrighted material over the three years the site was active, O’Dwyer said he deleted the offending post. That wasn’t good enough because in 2010, when O’Dwyer was 22, he was arrested in his Sheffield Hallam University dorm room by two local police officers, and two Immigration and Customs agents from the United States. O’Dwyer was charged with copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement.
The U.S. deemed the $220,000 O’Dwyer made from advertising revenue on TVShack illegal and is currently trying to extradite him to the U.S., where he could receive a sentence of 10 years in a maximum security prison. In comparison, O’Dwyer’s case was investigated by British authorities and dropped, as linking to content is not illegal in the U.K. and is considered protected by free speech...