Sheffield student faces jail in America over movie clips on website

Richard O'Dwyer
Richard O'Dwyer
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A SHEFFIELD student is facing up to five years in jail if convicted in America for a website which provided links to movie clips.

Richard O’Dwyer, aged 23, who lives in student accommodation on Shoreham Street in the city centre, is facing extradition to the US to face copyright infringement charges.

The Sheffield Hallam University computer science undergraduate is being defended by lawyer Ben Cooper, who is also representing 26-year-old alleged hacker Gary McKinnon in his fight against extradition to America. Richard, who is originally from New Station Road in Chesterfield, has refused to give his consent to be extradited and has vowed to fight in the English courts against the move. A source close to Richard said: “He’s in total disbelief over the charges against him and very anxious about the impact this may have on his studies since he has two years left of his degree. He’s daunted and frightened by the

prospect of being extradited to America let alone the disruption to his career.”

His mother Julia O’Dwyer said the decision to put him on trial in the US was ‘madness’.

“Richard clearly has a talent for web design but was foolish in not understanding the implications of copyright,” she said.

“Yet to try to haul him off to America for trial while he’s midway through his university studies is so utterly disproportionate it defies belief.”

The student was arrested three weeks ago and locked up for a night in Wandsworth Prison - until his aunt was able to stump up £3,000 in bail money.

Yesterday he appeared before the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London for a short preliminary hearing.

Lawyer Mr Cooper said he would argue the extradition demands breached Richard’s human rights.

He said: “The server was not based in the US at all. Mr O’Dwyer did not have copyrighted material on his website; he simply provided a link. The essential contention is that the correct forum for this trial is in fact here in Britain, where he was at all times.”

In court Richard wore a red hooded top bearing the name Sheffield Hallam University, and spoke only to confirm his identity.

He has not yet entered a plea to the charges.

District Judge Daphne Wickham bailed him to return for a further hearing at the court in London on September 12.

His bail conditions include reporting weekly to a police station in Sheffield, not entering ports or airports, not applying for international travel documents, and not using the internet to access the website ‘TV Shack’ or registering a new domain name.

After the case his mother said: “Let’s hope our Government can bring some common sense to bear to put an end to such unnecessary, yet deeply traumatic, extradition demands.

“We have a perfectly good justice system in the UK - why aren’t we using it in cases such as this?”