Archive for June, 2012
Richard O’Dwyer, a 24-year old UK student, started a website when he was 22 which carried links to external sources where people could watch U.S. TV and movies online. The website in question, TVShack, acted as a search engine, allowing people to search user-submitted links. None of the allegedly copyright-infringing content was hosted or uploaded by the site or by Richard.
Now he is being targeted for extradition by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has decided to make O’Dwyer its prime target in its battle against digital copyright infringement. O’Dwyer has been charged with criminal infringement of copyright, and conspiracy to commit criminal infringement of copyright. Each carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.
Richard is a UK citizen, his website was not hosted in the US and the alleged offenses were not comitted on US soil, so what fucking right do the US have to try to demand he be extradited?
In general, search engines are not responsible for the content of external sites they link to; sites which carefully moderate al user-submitted content can sometimes be considered more responsible for the content which remains, as leaving it there could be construed as an approval of it. However, the “content” in this case was simply links to material elsewhere; there is no clear direct infringement case to answer as far as I can see.
Even if it was agreed that Richard’s website aided the distribution of copyright-infringing material, hauling him to a country irrelevant to the actions in question to face charges which could lead to up to ten years in jail? Seriously, what the fuck?
The Guardian reports:
However, the US authorities became concerned about a site linking to content often still within copyright. To sell a counterfeit CD or DVD of a copyrighted work is an offence, as is deliberately uploading such a work to the internet.
American customs officials, after campaigning from industry bodies, contended that linking to such items on other sites (as search engines and others automatically do) would also be covered by such laws.
This is a contentious interpretation of the law, even in the US, where linking has in some court cases been regarded as protected speech under the first amendment. Part of the reason for the huge backlash against proposed copyright laws, the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and the Protect [Intellectual Property] Act (Pipa) was that this provision would come under attack.
O’Dwyer says he hadn’t really considered the legality of his site – he didn’t know much about copyright, and knew he was only posting users’ links to material hosted elsewhere – but did comply with legal notices from publishers asking him to remove links, on the few occasions he received them.
So, for a minor transgression, the US want to be able to haul him out of his own country to the US, and face potential way-over-the-top prison time? (He was already held in Wandsworth prison whilst awaiting bail.) Long-term prison time for a minor offense committed by a young student? Really, US, really?
I really hope the UK doesn’t allow this to happen. The US ICE need a quite simple response to be provided: Fuck Off. However, apparently home secretary Theresa May, who must clear all UK/US extraditions, has already given her approval to it. His appeal therefore now depends on a high court hearing, due later this year.
There is a petition to the UK home office to stop this extradition.
FunnyJunk is a website which publishes funny images. Many of these images are stolen from various sources – including hundreds stolen from TheOatmeal. When Matthew Inman, owner of TheOatmeal called out the owner of FunnyJunk.com for hosting lots of stolen comics, including a lot of Matthew’s material. The owner of FunnyJunk.com deleted some of them, but a large number still remained, some with attribution removed to hide the fact they’d come from TheOatmeal.
Matthew just left it at that, and the remaining stolen comics continued to be hosted on FunnyJunk without attribution or permission.
Recently, almost a year later, Charles Carreon, a lawyer who became famous in the 90s after successfully litigating sex.com, served papers on Matthew representing FunnyJunk, demanding that Matthew remove “false statements about FunnyJunk” from his website, and accuses Matthew of using SEO practices to attempt to come up when people search for “funnyjunk”. (Er, yes, a page written about FunnyJunk will indeed appear in search results for “funnyjunk” – that’s not SEO trickery or any negative action, that’s how the Internet works.)
Worse, though, he also demanded payment of $20,000 to be made! Er, yes, good luck demanding unsubstantiated amounts from a fellow citizen; as a lawyer, I’m sure you’d know that Matthew has no obligation to comply whatsoever, until you take a case in front of a judge, and get awarded damages; how you could substantiate that level of damages I’m not quite sure.
In response, Matthew launched a fundraiser, intended to raise the $20,000 demanded, which would then be donated to the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation, two worthy causes. The $20,000 was raised in around an hour, and ballooned to an incredible sum of over $186,000 at time of writing – that’s an incredible achievement and something Matthew can be proud of.
Charles Carreon apparently took offense, though, and told a journalist at MSNBC that he “has sent a request to disable the fundraising campaign”. So, he wants to prevent the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation from receiving over $90,000 each? That seems like something that’ll make you popular.
Amazingly, he decided to go on and launch a lawsuit not only against Matthew, but also against IndieGoGo, the company hosting the donation appeal, who are uninvolved in the whole original bitchfight. That wasn’t dickish enough, though; he also decided to sue the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society, who have no involvement other than being the intended recipients of the fundraising results.
Seriously, dude, what the fuck?
I can’t find better words to summarise the situation than these by Ken at Popehat in the link above:
Yes. Charles Carreon, butthurt that someone had leveraged his douchebaggery into almost two hundred thousand dollars of donations to two worthy charities, sued the charities.
Charles Carreon, I think you are indeed a grade-A douchebag. I do hope nobody will ever consider hiring you to represent them in future, except perhaps to unblock their toilets with your tongue. Matthew Inman, I’d like to buy you a beer.