President Obama this evening participated in a Google+ “hangout,” as he sat in the Roosevelt Room and answered questions via video chat.
Not surprisingly, Obama was asked about the administration’s stance on the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was sidelined after a storm of online protest that the legislation would alter the architecture of the Internet and jeopardize web freedom.
He called on both sides — the bills put Hollywood and Silicon Valley at odds — to come together to come up with a solution that makes sure “that intellectual property is protected” but also does not affect “the fundamental integrity of the Internet as an open system.”
“When SOPA came up on the Hill, we expressed some concerns about the way that the legislation had been written, told folks let’s go back to the table and figure something out that works for everybody,” Obama said.
Steve Grove, the moderator of the web chat, said that the most popular question submitted was this one: “Why are you personally supporting the extradition UK Citizen Richard O’Dwyer for solely linking to copyright infringing works using an Extradition Treaty designed to combat terrorism and to bring terrorists to judgment in the USA?”
The domain of O’Dwyer’s site TVShack.net was seized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in June, and he was charged with conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement. The U.S. has been trying to extradite him, and earlier this month a UK judge ruled that the transfer of O’Dwyer to the U.S. to face the charges could go forward. His decision is here. O’Dwyer, a college student, argued that his site merely linked to other sites that hosted pirated content.
Obama, however, said that he “is not personally doing anything” about O’Dwyer’s extradition.
“One of the ways our system works is the President doesn’t get involved in extradition decisions and prosecutions,” he said.
According to the UK court, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must confirm the order for extradition, after which O’Dwyer can appeal in Great Britain.
Obama’s answers to both questions are below.