SOPA: Richard O’Dwyer Faces US Extradition, a Sign of Things to Come
Image Credit: Reuters

As the threat of the US Stop Online Piract Act looms, Sheffield Hallam student Richard O'Dwyer faces extradition over copyright infringement allegations.

O'Dwyer, 23, faces extradition to the US following claims that the TVShack website he set up hosts links to copyrighted films and television programmes. If found guilty he could face up to five years in jail.

Speaking to the BBC, O'Dwyer's lawyer Ben Cooper promised that he would be appealing the Westminster Crown Court's ruling. In his statement Cooper reiterated that O'Dwyer was not guilty as the site itself did not host content; instead the site redirects users to other sites hosting the material in question.

Carrying on, in part referring to the US SOPA bill, Cooper indicated that the ruling could set Britain down a dangerous path.

Designed to combat online piracy, since being announced the SOPA bill has come under wide-spread criticism, with numerous groups voicing concerns about the new powers the act could grant US law enforcement. A common concern is the suggestion that the act will allow police to arrest, fine and potentially jail individuals for seemingly minor offences, such as uploading a copyrighted video onto YouTube.

If passed analysts have since speculated that more cases such as O'Dwyer's are inevitable, meaning that the Court's ruling to extradite a British citizen may set a dangerous precedent. A fact not lost to Cooper, who referred to his client as a "guinea pig" for copyright infringement cases between US authorities and British citizens.