UK man settles with US over TVShack.net copyright charges

Richard O'Dwyer, 24, will travel to the U.S. in the next two weeks to settle his case with U.S. prosecutors

A British man has struck a deal to avoid extradition to the U.S. on copyright infringement charges for creating a website that directed users to popular entertainment content reproduced without legal permission.

A High Court judge in London was informed on Wednesday that Richard J. O'Dwyer of Sheffield, England, will travel to the U.S. within the next two weeks to sign an agreement that will settle his copyright infringement case, according to his mother, Julia O'Dwyer, who confirmed via email a report on the hearing by the BBC. She said she was advised by legal counsel to not comment further, adding she was preparing to go to the U.S.

O'Dwyer, 24, is expected to pay a small sum in compensation and agree not to violate copyright law again, the BBC reported.

In 2007, O'Dwyer created a site called TVShack.net, that contained links to popular movies and television but did not actually store the content. U.S. prosecutors allege the site generated more than US$230,000 in advertising revenue. When he ran TVShack.net, O'Dwyer was a student at Sheffield Hallam University studying gaming software development and interactive media.

In July 2010, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized the TVShack.net domain name as well as six others for alleged copyright infringement. The site's domain name was registered in the U.S., although it was hosted in the Netherlands.

Prosecutors alleged the site encouraged users to add links to other content that infringed copyright, reminding users they were saving money by using TVShack.net to view content.

In a June 2010 press release, U.S. federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York alleged that TVShack.net "distributed" movies including "Sex and the City 2," "The A Team," "Get Him to the Greek," and "Iron Man 2," notching as many as 486,000 visitors in May 2010. After TVShack.net was shut down, O'Dwyer launched a new domain, TVShack.cc., but it was also shut down around November 2010.

O'Dwyer was charged with copyright infringement, conspiracy to infringe a copyright and criminal copyright infringement. The U.S. filed an extradition request with the U.K., which was approved in January. The extradition request was another sign of the increased aggression with which U.S. prosecutors are pursuing copyright infringement cases.

A U.S. prosecutor assigned to the case referred questions to a Department of Justice media official, who could not immediately be reached.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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