Wikipedia Founder Protests Extradition of “Pirating” UK Student

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is helping Richard O'Dwyer, the UK-based ex-administrator of the video linking website TVShack, to prevent him from being extradited to the US for alleged copyright infringements. According to Wales, the case is an example of the ever-growing influence of the copyright lobby over the Internet. "Richard O'Dwyer is the human face of the battle between the content industry and the interests of the general public," Wales states.

tv-shackLast year Richard O’Dwyer was arrested by police for operating TVShack, a website that listed user-submitted link to TV-shows.

The UK student has since fought a looming extradition to the US, but thus far without success. In March, Home Secretary Theresa May officially approved the extradition request from US authorities.

The controversial extradition based on alleged copyright infringements is now awaiting an appeal to the High Court later this year. However, if it’s up to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales it won’t get that far.

Today, Wales launched a petition on Change.org asking the UK’s Home Secretary to stop the extradition. Wales, who earlier met with Richard O’Dwyer, believes the student has done little wrong.

“When operating his site, Richard O’Dwyer always did his best to play by the rules: on the few occasions he received requests to remove content from copyright holders, he complied. His site hosted links, not copyrighted content, and these were submitted by users,” Wales writes.

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.”

Earlier this year Wikipedia was one of the first major web companies to join the fight against SOPA and PIPA, and Wales sees his petition as an extension of this fight.

“Richard O’Dwyer is the human face of the battle between the content industry and the interests of the general public. Earlier this year, in the fight against the anti-copyright bills SOPA and PIPA, the public won its first big victory. This could be our second,” Wales notes.

In addition to the petition, Wales has published an op-ed in The Guardian, the newspaper which is also the first to interview Richard O’Dwyer.

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.

For those who want to help making this difference, Jimmy Wales’ Change petition can be signed here.

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