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Jonathan Brown: Mum studies copyright laws to beat son's extradition

IT was revealed this month that the FBI has claimed two Irish teens are linked to an international hacking ring.

In the meantime in the UK, one mother is dealing with the fallout of the American's interest in her son's activities. Like most mothers with children of college age, Julia O'Dwyer paid little attention to what her son Richard was doing on his computer.

So when City of London police launched raids on the family home and Richard's digs in November 2010 in search of "the trappings of wealth", she was understandably astonished.

"Richard just had his student room," she says. "They came looking for Mr Big and they found Mr Stupid Student."

Mr O'Dwyer had incurred the wrath of the mighty multibillion-dollar US entertainment industry after launching a website called 'TVShack' which offered links to films and popular television shows.

By the time discovered the operation, Mr O'Dwyer was studying interactive media with animation at Sheffield Hallam University and earning enough money from his site to run a second-hand car.

Last Thursday, the UK's home secretary signed the order authorising the 23-year-old's extradition to the US, where he could face 10 years in jail for copyright offences and a potential legal bill of £2m (€2.4m).

But his mother Julia is fighting his corner. The palliative paediatric nurse has devoted herself ferociously to the task of keeping her son in the UK.

In the process she has mastered the intricacies of extradition law, international copyright legislation, the internet, media campaigning and political lobbying on both sides of the Atlantic. She is determined her son won't be sent to New York.

Sitting in her Bolsover cottage on the edge of the Derbyshire Dales, she said: "We are not even thinking about having a trial in America. Richard is not going to be some poster boy for the pirates in America."

The O'Dwyer's argument, which they intend to put before the High Court, is straightforward. "Richard is not trying to evade justice and he may or may not have committed something that was a crime in America. That is not the issue. The issue is that it's not a crime here, and he has never been to America."

Meanwhile, Richard is continuing with his studies. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent