UK web site owners face extradition to USA

Moves are afoot in The Land Of The Free which could see owners of UK web sites extradited to the US if they are accused of piracy.

The US's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is setting its sights on UK-based sites with .com or .net names, even if they are hosted on servers outside the US according to the Guardian.

The ICE is gunning for sites which may contravene US laws on copyright infringement, particularly those streaming or offering downloads of 'pirated' movies, even if they don't break UK laws.

The government organisation reckons it owns anything with the three-letter URL extensions because they are rooted through Verisign, an Internet infrastructure company based in Virginia.

And it's not just sites hosting hooky movies and music which are coming under fire, it's those linking out to pirated material too.

"By definition, almost all copyright infringement and trademark violation is transnational. There's very little purely domestic intellectual property theft," said ICE man Erik Barnett.

He also compared those who link to pirate sites to drug dealers saying, "A lot of drug dealing is done by proxy - you rarely give the money to the same person that you get the dope from. I think the question is, are any of these people less culpable?"

We don't know where Barnett buys his drugs, but linking to your favourite episode of Friends on a dodgy streaming site probably won't see you banged up in an orange boiler suit being water-boarded, however.

The organisation is targeting people making big bucks out of weaselling paid-for subscription TV programming out from behind its paywalls.

"We seized one bank account for one individual running one sports streaming site," Barnett noted. "He lives with his parents and has no other source of income. He had $500,000 (£311,013) in his bank account. Most of the individuals that we've targeted were earning estimated amounts of between $10,000 and $20,000 a month. You've got to remember that the overheads are fairly low - your product isn't being paid for."