Copyright extradition

The IPKat has learnt from TorrentFreak that Hew Raymond Griffiths, the leader of warez site DrinkorDie has pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to commit copyright infringement” and “criminal copyright infringement” in the Eastern District of Virginia. The crimes carry with them a $500k penalty and up to 10 years in prison. Much of the case has been conducted while Griffiths has been in the ‘comfort’ of an Australian prison cell. Griffiths, who is a UK national who resides in Australia, has never visited the US. However, US extradition proceedings against him were commenced following the actions of US Customs. The Australian authorities have backed the extradition proceedings.

The IPKat is pretty horrified. Copyright infringement, particularly on a large scale, is clearly wrong, but extradition seems disproportionate. He’s also pretty surprised that Australia (and presumably the UK) are allowing this extradition action to take place. The Kat has a hazy recollection from his public international law days that taking jurisdiction against activities which have taken place against one’s citizens, but outside of one’s jurisdiction, is reserved for exceptional situations. Is copyright infringement really serious enough to count?
Copyright extradition Copyright extradition Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, April 23, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. This part of the IPKat thinks that extradition is not only justifiable but highly necessary in the case of effectively borderless criminal activity such as net-related copyright infringement - doubly so when you consider the links between commercial IP infringement and organised crime.

  2. This is bizarre as copyright isn’t a territorial right. Most people commit some sort of copyright infringement unintentionally or otherwise. It is extremely unreasonable to expect every individual to be aware of the consequences in all countries of the world. I do not know what the offence for nicking a picture off the internet and using it on my blog is according to Senegal’s copyright law. If a crime is as Jeremy says “borderless”, why must the offender be extradited to any particular country and not be tried where he has committed it?

    Also, it is quite worrying that a country which no longer recognises the jurisdiction of the ICJ should feel it has the right to try people for committing offences in other countries. For instance the case of Gary McKinnon’s extradition and numerous terrorism suspects in Gitmo.


  3. I think extradition may be the only effective way to enforce copyright in some cases, but that doesn't make it proportionate, when one thinks that the defendant is not only imprisoned, but is imprisoned away from his home and family etc.

    As for the links between IP infringement and organised crime, if it's the organised crime that's the problem then go after that, rather than the IP offences. (Not quite sure what disorganised crime is mind you)

  4. Why was Hew Griffiths the only non american member of drink of die that the US wanted extradited? Why did they not extradite the Swedish, Finnish or British?
    Maybe part of the answer lies in the free trade agreement with the US.

    Hew Griffiths has already spent 3 years incarcerated for this, yet John Sankus the leader of DOD was sentenced to 46 months but had that reduced to 18 months. All american members convicted had their sentences reduced also.

    This ladies and gentlemen is nothing more then a political show trial. Given that the US authorities paid a member to entrap other members.

  5. Could i ask someone to find a source on this issue?

    Is extradition of this sort allowed in "exceptional circumstances" as IPKat says?

  6. This is the most schocking development and completely unacceptable.

    Does anyone have any contact info?
    Is there any way to contribute to his defense campaign?

  7. SahJonOJon- Thanks for that, nice to hear someone gave a damn.

    It is very easy to be flippant and speak in terms of extradiction being a great option, and regurgitating media garbage about linkages to organised crime. The fact of the matter is this particular case raised eyebrows all around the world, the most senior Judges in Australia spoke stronly against the Governments handling of the case.

    I could write a novel about all that transpired, perhaps I will one day, I could tell some stories that would make most of you reconsider blithe remarks. I hope you never have to endure maximum security and witenss the very worst in human nature.

    Your Hew Griffiths
    ex BanDiDo ViCE/RiSC/DOD

    Ps: Nice to be free once more


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