Judge formally ends student’s copyright extradition ordeal

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A senior judge has quashed the Home Secretary’s order for the extradition to the United States of a British student accused of breaking copyright laws.

Richard O’Dwyer faced prosecution over the film and TV show file-sharing website TVShack, set up by him as a teenager.

Last week O’Dwyer voluntarily flew to New York and entered into a “deferred prosecution” agreement before a US judge and promised to “refrain from violation of any US law” in the future.

This ended the extradition threat, but O’Dwyer, 24, says he still believes he never committed any crime.

At the New York court he agreed to pay the equivalent of £20,000 to the Motion Picture Association of America to compensate the “victims” of his alleged copyright infringement.

Yesterday Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, formally quashed the extradition order at London’s High Court, saying: “This cannot be anything other than an extremely satisfactory outcome for everyone concerned.”

The student’s mother Julia O’Dwyer, from Chesterfield, who had flown to New York with her son, was also at the High Court.

She said: “We are delighted the matter is closed now. The New York hearing and signing the agreement only lasted five minutes, but it was the best five minutes we have had for a couple of years.

“Richard found the New York trip a bit frightening at first. He was worried he might not be allowed to come back home.”

Mrs O’Dwyer said Richard was not at the High Court today because he was “knuckling down” to his BSc (Honours) degree course in interactive media with animation at Sheffield Hallam University.

Mr Cooper told the judge: “He is in his final year of university and has a job offer already.”

Home Secretary Theresa May agreed to O’Dwyer’s surrender after a court ruled in January that his extradition would be lawful.

He set up TVShack, which linked to programmes and films available for free online, in 2007. US authorities alleged that O’Dwyer received more than $230,000 (£147,000) in advertising revenue since January 2008, until the site was shut down in 2010. He was arrested in November 2010 in his student room in Sheffield.