Liberty hold Richard O'Dwyer Human Rights 'Copyright' Anti-Extradition Event

Last night I attended an event in Sheffield (UK) hosted by Human Rights campaign group Liberty.  The aim of the event was to raise awareness of Richard O'Dywer, a university student from the city who is currently appealing against extradition to the US on charges of copyright infringement.

The case dates back to when Richard was still at school and set up a website that contained links to copyrighted material online.  These included pirated movies and TV shows.  What resulted was a major legal battle in the UK, and in the city where I live, to prevent him from being extradited to a country where he hadn't been since he was five.

Liberty's official statement about the case is...

Richard, just 23, is accused of copyright infringement by US authorities for hosting a website offering links to downloadable pirate films and TV shows. Not actual material – just links. He built the site from his Sheffield bedroom and his computer server was not even based in America. Yet still he faces being dragged across the Atlantic for trial now the Home Secretary has approved his extradition. If removed Richard will become the first British citizen extradited to America because of copyright laws.

Richard's mother, Julia O'Dwyer was in attendance along with the policy director for Liberty and two academic staff from Richard's (and my) university, Sheffield Hallam.  Also in attendance in the audience was the leader of the UK Pirate Party, Loz Kaye, British Conservative MP David Davis, a former shadow home secretary and several people who were either helping someone else fight deportation to the US, or who had been deported themselves in the past.

Mrs O'Dwyer began almost comically saying “Who’d have known that a student in his bedroom could end up in so much trouble.” but went on to say that she believes “[They are] not fighting crime… [They are] actually fighting [their] own government”.  She is obviously deeply concerned about her son's chances which she describes as...

“The odds appear to be stacked against us but we have to go on…the least damaging way for Richard”

David Davis MP, who is concerned about the extradition arrangement the UK has with the US said that “98% of people give in to plea bargaining” in the US, where a defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge in order to receive a reduced sentence.  His concerns, and the concerns of Liberty were that Richard hadn't shared any copyrighted content himself and was not guilty of breaking any UK law.

The issue of copyright infringement and the intervention of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and other organisations pressuring for prosecutions both in the US and for extraditions to the US from other parts of the world, only seems as though it will get much worse before it gets better.

Liberty's involvement came about because of their also working with UK asberger's sufferer Gary McKinnon, who faces extradition to the US for hacking into the Pentagon to look for UFO secrets.

Feeling is obviously very strong and the presence of two people who had been previously extradited to the US only served to rally the crowd when they told their stories.  It's a tough call all round but Liberty and Julia O'Dwyer believe they are close to a breakthrough and are calling on UK residents to contact their MP to complain about the case.  You can read more about Richard O'Dwyer and Gary McKinnon's cases here.


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  1. Morely the IT Guy said on March 30, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    I am ashamed to be an American today. The USA is trampling human rights all over the world, for the sole purpose of ensuring the windfall profits of Corporations which refuse to change their business models. The leading Republican candidate has even said that Corporations are people; what chance do mere mortal humans have against immortal Corporations?

    Where is Guy Fawkes now that we need him?

  2. Robert Palmar said on March 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Cameron made it clear on his recent trip to the US he is in bed with Obama.
    Obama is a tool of Hollywood doing the bidding of the RIAA and MPAA.
    As long as these politicians remain in power matters will worsen.
    Expect our clueless Attorney General to push this case to
    please Hollywood donors for the upcoming election.

  3. Steven Leach said on March 30, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    As a US Citizen I also apologize for my governments trampling of the WORLD’s rights. I can say that I actively petition my Congress women Barbara Boxer, and Dianne Feinstein to protest this and other civil acts which the RIAA and the MPAA had pushed through with lots of money to criminalize such copyright infringement cases. I bought the promise of now President Obama that he promised change, boy was i a rube, and now it looks like I will either have to vote for Obama or vote for a republican candidate that is even worse. i am proud to say that since 2001 I have never voted for Dianne Feinstein, or any political incumbent, and I encourage all my fellow US citizen to VOTE these a**hats out of office

  4. Wayfarer said on March 31, 2012 at 1:19 am

    @ Steven Leach:

    Don’t feel any need to apologise mate – America IS a bully (always has been since the start.) But the UK doesn’t and never did have to put up with the iniquitous ‘special relationship’ (aka the USA says jump and we ask how high.) Successive UK governments have shown that the UK is – ultimately – governed by a foreign president we didn’t elect. But that isn’t purely America’s fault – we helped make our own bed and we’re lying in it.

    The real fault lies with out own politicians – men without honesty, principles or honour. A government that preaches about human rights in other countries and begrudges their own citizens rights we used to take for granted.

    Cameron and his tame poodle Clegg don’t give a monkey’s if they’re ever re-elected or not. Like Tony B.Liar before them, their only aim is to curry enough favour with the money men to guarantee their millionairehood when they quit in a few year’s time. That why Blair left early – he’d made his pile. And now we’ve just seen the most cynical pro-rich budget in recent history – ease the ‘plight’ of the rich and screw the old age pensioners.

    The UK is now a country where civil liberties that took a millenium to gain have been lost in a few years. No right to silence when arrested. No right to double jeopardy. Police have only to extend the word ‘terrorism’ to the most ludicrous lengths to hold people for long periods. Ludicrous restrictions to protect us from a largely non-existent terrorist threat. Institutional racism in many police forces. House arrest without hearing or trial. But – our government and their media lackeys tell us – all just strangers and foreigners that right-mended citizens don’t need to worry about. All supported by a media – including the BBC – that’s now little more than a propaganda machine.

    And the British citizen? A lot of us care deeply, but most don’t give a toss, as long as they have their iPods and Sky TV.

  5. Robert Palmar said on March 31, 2012 at 1:35 am

    As an American I would never apologize for America.
    America has nothing to apologize for. I salute her greatness.
    She had shed more blood and treasure than any nation in the
    history of the world giving peoples freedom asking nothing in return.

    Colin Powell said it best on February 14, 2002, he was asked how he
    felt representing a country commonly perceived as “the Satan of
    contemporary politics.” Here is the relevant part of his reply:

    Far from being the Great Satan, I would say that we are the Great Protector. We have sent men and women from the armed forces of the United States to other parts of the world throughout the past century to put down oppression. We defeated Fascism. We defeated Communism. We saved Europe in World War I and World War II. We were willing to do it, glad to do it. We went to Korea. We went to Vietnam. All in the interest of preserving the rights of people.

    And when all those conflicts were over, what did we do? Did we stay and conquer? Did we say, “Okay, we defeated Germany. Now Germany belongs to us? We defeated Japan, so Japan belongs to us”? No. What did we do? We built them up. We gave them democratic systems which they have embraced totally to their soul. And did we ask for any land? No, the only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead. And that is the kind of nation we are.

    1. M.D. said on March 31, 2012 at 8:16 am

      You missed Afghanistan which may also be of altruist intentions?? Take a look at WikiLeaks documents and open your eyes. Boy so much for writing a defense that doesn’t a have a single solid stand.
      “We saved Europe in World War I and World War II. We were willing to do it, glad to do it.” lol you were doing business, the military industry had an impressive grow, not to mention all the earnings from being the main creditor of the war.

      Here’s another one: The War of The Golf, just check out all the earning for the petroleum industry,

      It’s not hilarious, but frightening to read someone’s comment with such vision of the world.

      Are you by chance an US military? That would pretty much explain why you have to believe it.

      PD: As a citizen in a globalized world you should know that these days land is not as important as before, countries can be conquered without owning any of it’s land.

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 31, 2012 at 9:58 am

        I know why I do not run a political or religious blog. Guys, lets please get back to the topic at hand.

    2. JohnMWhite said on March 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      America still has many sizeable military bases in both Germany and Japan, which have been there since WW2. America ‘asks for’ land all the time, even from its allies. The Scots have to deal with radiation leaks on a semi-frequent basis from a US military installation there.

      Anyway, this whole situation is utterly abhorrent. The UK government has no sense of duty to its own citizens, and is instead far more interested in serving the vicious greed of off-shore corporations. That’s their failing, and that these corporations and the laws they wield like batons come from America is not really the issue, though the political landscape and Hollywood’s power there does not make it look good for the defendant. Extradition for linking when a teenager? It is to the UK’s great shame that the Home Secretary did not launch into a tirade about how absurd and malicious the request was in the first place.

  6. JK-n said on March 31, 2012 at 3:47 am

    Dear Palmar. How frightening is it that even a politician in a high position has such perverted views of history and foreign countries. “We defeated fascism, saved Europe both in WWI and WWII”. And now we can probably thank USA for the exceptionally warm spring we are having, too! I’m sure many americans think this way, and that bombings of German, Japanese, Vietnamese etc civilians as well as attacking Korea and Vietnam were justified. It appears that US armed forces’ specialities are friendly fire and steal what you can from whatever country you happen to be invading at the moment and, if possible destroy their environment as well. Perhaps the most ridiculous idea though is your version of freedom and the often ultraviolent and extremist manner you are spreading it. Are you really this dangerously simple or is it just ignorance?

    1. Robert Palmar said on March 31, 2012 at 5:35 am

      It is impossible to know the psychological origin
      of what is your obvious fit of irrational hysteria.

      You indict yourself with your words and it is very
      satisfying to know you are unaware you have.

      Dear JK-n.

  7. Nerdebeu said on March 31, 2012 at 7:15 am

    Dear R.Palmar,

    Do you realize that 90% of humanity hates (to varying degrees) the U.S.A.
    And your answers explain why. USA totally laugh at what the rest of the world wants and thinks.

    1. Robert Palmar said on March 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      To make the claim that 90 percent of the
      world hates America is absurd on its face.

      Such an utterance can only come from an individual
      consumed in and blinded by his own raging hatred.

      Nor does the USA “totally laugh” at the rest of the world.
      Another absurdity and the perception of a warped mind.

      To make you feel better though, Dear Nerdebeu, for
      embarrassing yourself with your hate I will laugh at you.

  8. Nerdebeu said on March 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    We see that you do not know Europe, the Arab world, Asia, me if. Your blindness and your navel gazing prevents you from see the sad reality of the perception of the world to the USA.

    1. Robert Palmar said on March 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      Right. Keep telling yourself that.
      Self-delusion requires diligence.

  9. Martin Brinkmann said on March 31, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I’m closing the comments, this is not a blog about politics.