Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has joined a high-profile campaign protesting against copyright law, branding US attempts to extradite a UK student accused of infringement "censorship." Wales began a Change.org petition calling for the UK Home Secretary to step in and prevent the extradition, which he describes as America "trying to prosecute a UK citizen for an alleged crime which took place on UK soil."
"The internet as a whole must not tolerate censorship in response to mere allegations of copyright infringement. As citizens we must stand up for our rights online" Wales insisted. "When operating his site, Richard O'Dwyer always did his best to play by the rules: on the few occasions he received requests to remove content from copyright holders, he complied. His site hosted links, not copyrighted content, and these were submitted by users."
O'Dwyer's site, TVShack.net, was in some ways a more focused Google or Bing, offering users a way to hunt down streaming versions of their favorite shows. Although he did not host the files, his linking to them caught the attention of content rights holders.
"Copyright is an important institution, serving a beneficial moral and economic purpose. But that does not mean that copyright can or should be unlimited. It does not mean that we should abandon time-honoured moral and legal principles to allow endless encroachments on our civil liberties in the interests of the moguls of Hollywood" Jimmy Wales, founder, Wikipedia
Wales has become an increasingly outspoken critic of what he sees as over-reaching content rights pandering, blasting app stores as a "dangerous chokepoint" and using Wikipedia to support anti-SOPA/PIPA protests earlier this year. The online crowd-sourced enciclopedia went offline for a day to highlight how important access to information is.
"Richard O'Dwyer is the human face of the battle between the content industry and the interests of the general public" Wales concludes. "Earlier this year, in the fight against the anti-copyright bills SOPA and PIPA, the public won its first big victory. This could be our second."