British student avoids US extradition over piracy



London: A British student facing trial in the US for creating a website that allowed people watch films and TV shows for free has struck a deal to avoid extradition, the UK High Court was told on Wednesday.

Richard O'Dwyer is accused of breaking copyright laws after US authorities claimed the 24-year-old's website hosted links to pirated films and TV programmes.

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

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

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

O'Dwyer will travel to the US voluntarily in the next few weeks for the deal to be formally ratified, the BBC reported. The Sheffield Hallam student could have faced jail if convicted of the allegations, which were brought following a crackdown by US authorities.

A High Court judge was told that O'Dwyer was expected to travel to the US in the next two weeks 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 John Thomas described the outcome as "very satisfactory."

"It would be very nice for everyone if this was resolved happily before Christmas." UK Home Secretary Theresa May had approved O'Dwyer's extradition after a court ruling in January.

Human rights campaign group Liberty welcomed the proposed settlement of 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.

PTI