Another Example of US Govt Abuse of Power: Trying to Extradite a British Citizen for Linking to Online Content

According to a feature story on Ars Technica, the US government via its Immigration and Customs Enforcement is attempting to extradite Richard O’Dwyer, a British student with no ties to the US, from Britain to the US for linking to movies and TV shows available online:

In May, American law enforcement officials opened up yet another front in this war by seeking the extradition of Richard ODwyer. The 23-year-old British college student is currently working on his BS in interactive media and animation. Until last year, he ran a “link site” that helped users find free movies and TV shows, many of them infringing. American officials want to try him on charges of criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy.

via Big Contents latest antipiracy weapon: extradition.

I believe that this is an egregious abuse of US resources to target an individual who has not committed a crime warranting such an action by the US government. Extradition to the US for an individual who has no obvious ties and who has not committed an atrocious crime should be subjected to this kind of strong arm tactics.

Furthermore, the British government should defend O’Dwyer from extradition, because he has not violated any laws by the US government. Essentially, the US government is attempting to hold citizens around the world to its laws. What would happen if US citizens were held to the laws of more restrictive regimes and their laws? Would the US want its citizens extradited? Would the US allow its citizens to be extradited for transgressing a law in another country that it deemed too harsh? I don’t think so. Britain should likewise hold its own against the US government’s actions on the behalf of its apparent masters: big business and big media.

If we want to talk about balancing budgets and reducing government overhead, I believe that we can start by not putting government resources to work for the entertainment industry. If the entertainment industry wants to pursue legal action again O’Dwyer, that’s their prerogative. Personally, I don’t want my government wasting resources by going after individuals in foreign countries with different laws for linking to online content. This is a matter of foreign sovereignty as well as governmental resource allocation. Our government shouldn’t chase game on the behalf of big business.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.