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Wikipedia boss starts petition for TVShack's Richard O'Dwyer

Wikipedia leader Jimmy Wales has launched a campaign to defend Richard O'Dwyer from extradition to the US.

Wikipedia leader Jimmy Wales has launched a petition to defend British computing student Richard O'Dwyer from extradition to the US.

O'Dwyer faces being extradited to the states and potentially 10 years in US prison for setting up TVShack, a site that hosts links to pirated material. Writing in the Guardian, Wales insists  extradition wouldn't be fair.

"Copyright is an important institution, serving a beneficial moral and economic purpose," Wales writes. "But that does not mean it can or should be unlimited."

The Wikifigurehead points out O'Dwyer's site merely linked out to copyright-infringing material rather than hosting it, and that the 23-year-old had respected the rules by deleting content when he received take-down notifications.

That wasn't enough to sway a judge, however, who earlier this month ruled that O'Dwyer could be extradited.

"Given the state of US Internet law, it is extremely difficult to see how he can be convicted of copyright violation," Wales says, going to to write, "From the beginning of the Internet, we have seen a struggle between the interests of the 'content industry' and the general public.

"Due to heavy lobbying and much money lavished on politicians, until very recently the content industry has won every battle."

Wales' petition on has already attracted nearly 12,000 signatures. TVShack, meanwhile, has been seized by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and visiting the site quickly redirects to an anti-piracy video.

Last week BT joined other UK ISPs in blocking The Pirate Bay, following a High Court order.

Do you think Richard O'Dwyer's extradition is a fair way to fight piracy? Let me know your feelings in the comments or on our Facebook wall.