'Piracy' student Richard O'Dwyer avoids US extradition

image captionMr O'Dwyer faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison if found guilty in the US

A student facing trial and possible imprisonment in the United States has struck a deal to avoid extradition, the High Court has been told.

Richard O'Dwyer, from Sheffield, is accused of breaking copyright laws.

The US authorities claimed the 24-year-old's TVShack website hosted links to pirated films and TV programmes.

The High Court was told Mr O'Dwyer had signed a "deferred prosecution" agreement which would require him paying a small sum of compensation.

Mr O'Dwyer will travel to the US voluntarily in the next few weeks for the deal to be formally ratified, it is understood.

'Satisfactory outcome'

The Sheffield Hallam student could have faced jail if convicted of the allegations, which were brought following a crackdown by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

A High Court judge was told that Mr O'Dwyer was expected to travel to the US in the next 14 days to complete the agreement, pay a small sum in compensation and give undertakings not to infringe copyright laws again.

His extradition application is then expected to return to the High Court so it can formally be disposed of.

Judge Sir John Thomas said: "It would be very nice for everyone if this was resolved happily before Christmas."

Sir John, president of the Queen's Bench Division, said it was a "very satisfactory outcome".

Home Secretary Theresa May approved Mr O'Dwyer's extradition after a court ruling in January.

In May, Mr O'Dwyer was told his appeal against the decision, which was due to take place in July at the High Court, would be delayed.

The High Court heard as a result of the deal struck by Mr O'Dwyer, an appeal would no longer be necessary.

The case was brought by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which claimed the TVShack.net website earned more than $230,000 (£147,000) in advertising revenue.

The US authorities obtained a warrant and seized the domain name in June 2010.

'Copyright cops'

Human rights campaign group Liberty welcomed the proposed settlement of Mr O'Dwyer's case, but warned there was still need for reform of extradition laws.

Isabella Sankey, Liberty's director of policy, said: "This will be a huge relief for Richard, but how appalling that he had to wait so long for the US authorities to make this decision.

"Case after case shows that our extradition arrangements must be overhauled to allow people who have never left these shores to be dealt with here at home," she said.

Loz Kaye, leader of Pirate Party UK, a political party which wants to legalise non-commercial file-sharing, said the deal struck by Mr O'Dwyer showed the US extradition request had been "disproportionate and unnecessary".

"It does not remove the underlying problem, though. The US cannot be allowed to be the copyright cops of the world," he said.

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