Many of the so-called pirate site owners believe that as long as their site isn’t hosted on US based servers that they are pretty safe from retribution by the entertainment industry and their trade groups, the problem is that if ICE has their way this may not be the case.
This is a lesson that Richard O’Dwyer, a computer undergrad studying at a university in northern England, is learning as the US authorities are trying very hard to extradite him to the US to face charges of being the admin of the TVShack site that was seized by ICE in mid-2010.
It doesn’t matter that O’Dwyer is a UK citizen or that TVShack is extremely similar to another site called TV-Links which has already been deemed as being legal by the UK courts. As far as the US authorites are concerned O’Dwyer has broken US law and as such should face US courts.
So what basis is ICE using as grounds for the charges and extradition attempt?
Well it boils down to one simple thing – O’Dwyer used a US based domain registrar, VeriSign, to register the TVShack domain.
“The jurisdiction we have over these sites right now really is the use of the domain name registry system in the United States. That’s the key,” says ICE assistant deputy director Erik Barnett speaking with The Guardian.
The only necessary “nexus to the US” is a .COM or .NET domain for which Verisign acts as the official registry operator, Barnett added.
The whole domain seizing operation by ICE has been fraught with questions about its legality, as well as more than a few already deemed legal sites being seized, and this situation with O’Dwyer only goes to show just how much these organizations will go to bend, or ignore, the law to get what they want.