Two years ago, Richard O’Dwyer was studying for a multimedia degree at Sheffield Hallam University. In his spare time he ran a website that acted as a search engine for users to find links to watch TV and films online.
He respected the rules — deleting content when he received requests to remove it. But despite this, he’s now been accused of copyright violation and could face 10 years in a US prison, after the British Home Secretary, Theresa May, signed an extradition order in March.
Richard is not a US citizen, he’s lived in the UK all his life, his site was not hosted there, and most of his users were not from the US. America is trying to prosecute a UK citizen for an alleged crime which took place on UK soil.
Given the thin case against him, it is an outrage that he is being extradited to the US to face charges. That’s why I’ve just launched a petition on Change.org to stop his extradition – and why I hope you will sign it today. Click here to sign the petition.
When I met Richard, he struck me as a clean-cut, geeky kid. Still a student, he reminds me of many great entrepreneurs and the kind of person I can imagine launching the next Wikipedia or YouTube.
Copyright matters but from the beginning of the internet, we have seen a struggle between the interests of the “content industry” and the general public.
Richard is the human face of that battle, and if he’s extradited and convicted, he will bear the very real human cost.
The internet as a whole must not tolerate censorship as a response to mere allegations of copyright infringement. As citizens we must stand up for our rights online.
Together, the public won the battle against SOPA and PIPA. We proved that when we work together we can protect freedom on the internet. Together, I know we can win this battle too.
- Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder