Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has blasted the decision to extradite U.K. student Richard O’Dwyer, who faces a U.S. trial for alleged crimes that were committed on U.K. soil.
Describing O’Dwyer as a “clean-cut, geeky kid” who he imagines as the sort of person who will end up “launching the next big thing on the Internet” in a piece for The Guardian, he considers the case against him to be “thin” and called it “an outrage that he is being extradited to the U.S. to face felony charges for something that he is not being prosecuted for here.”
But it was argued that the site was “no different to Google” in how it operated. In practical, objective terms, the site was no different to Google, or any other search engine for that matter. O’Dwyer even took down links from his site when notified, complying with the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown system.
At the same time, Wales set up a Change.org petition to the U.K.’s Home Secretary Theresa May, who has the power to put a halt to the extradition.
It’s not the first time Wales has intervened on a matter of political principle.
In January, in protest of the SOPA and PIPA bills presented before Congress, he blacked out Wikipedia for a day to simulate how a “censored” Web would harm the free and open speech of the site’s online editors.
O’Dwyer’s case opened up a whole new can of worms that could see any U.K. citizen facing extradition to the United States by simply tweeting a link to a copyrighted file on The Pirate Bay, for example.
May gave the go-ahead for O’Dwyer to be extradited, but remains at home pending an appeal to the High Court in London.
Wikipedia’s founder argues that the case is an example of the clash between civil liberties and the interest of the copyright industries.
“Copyright is an important institution, serving a beneficial moral and economic purpose. But that does not mean that copyright can or should be unlimited. It does not mean that we should abandon time-honoured moral and legal principles to allow endless encroachments on our civil liberties in the interests of the moguls of Hollywood.”
TorrentFreak contacted Richard’s mother Julia O’Dwyer who is delighted with the support from the Internet icon. She hopes that Wales’ voice will be heard by the politicians who have a say in the matter, so the extradition can be prevented.
“To have this support for Richard from Jimmy Wales, such a renowned, influential and relevant person is fantastic. I understand Jimmy Wales advises our own government on Internet matters, so they really ought to sit up and listen to what he is saying and put a halt to this extradition,” Julia told TorrentFreak.
“Jimmy’s support can only benefit Richard and should bring the matter to the attention of some people who along with Jimmy might be able to make a difference,” she added.
Broadband ISP BT has now been given 14 days to decide whether or not to block The Pirate Bay, a website which distributes links to files that can then be shared via BitTorrent P2P clients. Sadly many, but not all, of the sites torrent links allegedly go to copyrighted content; Google’s search engine arguably does something similar
Are The Pirate Bay and Google basically the same?
Judges Facing New Types Of Crimes, New Types (And Levels) Of Damage, New Types Of Suspects?