Hew Raymond Griffiths

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Hew Raymond Griffiths
Born 8 November 1962
Known for DrinkOrDie

Hew Raymond Griffiths (born 8 November 1962 in the UK) has been accused by the United States of being a ring leader of DrinkOrDie or DOD, an underground software piracy network. Griffiths was living in Berkeley Vale in the Central Coast Region of NSW, Australia before he was placed on remand at Silverwater Correctional Centre. After fighting extradition for almost 3 years, Griffiths was finally extradited from Australia to the United States and on 20 February 2007, he appeared before Magistrate Judge Barry R. Portez of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. On 20 April, it was announced by the U.S. Department of Justice that Griffiths had entered a plea of guilty.

His case is of interest in that he is an Australian resident who has been indicted by a court in Virginia for copyright infringement and conspiracy to infringe copyright under the US Code. Hew Raymond Griffiths, born in the United Kingdom, had never at any point physically left Australia since arriving in his adopted country at an early age. This is an unusual situation as the US extradition has not targeted a fugitive or a dangerous person who financially profited from his activities. However, the Australian courts and executive government have agreed to treat Griffiths' activities as having taken place in US jurisdiction. The case therefore highlights the serious consequences for Australian internet users who are charged with pirating US copyright-protected material.

Griffiths' extradition was very controversial in Australia. The matter of U.S.A. v Griffiths has been cited as an example of how bilateral arrangements can lead to undesirable effects such as a loss of sovereignty and the introduction of draconian measures. On the other hand, increased enforcement internationally through heavy criminal sanctions is seen as an effective way of protecting the cash flow of commercial distribution networks.

On 22 June 2007 Hew Griffiths was sentenced to 51 months in prison for conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. It is noted he will only serve an estimated 15 months as the courts are granting him time served for the three years in Australian custody. Griffiths' sentencing on 22 June 2007, attracted significant attention in Australia, and some attention in the United States and other countries which have recently signed, or are currently negotiating, bilateral Free Trade Agreements with the USA.

Hew Raymond Griffiths finally returned to Australia on 2 March 2008 after having spent six weeks as an illegal alien in the US immigration detention system following his release from prison on 26 January 2008 (Australia Day). A condition of his repatriation to Australia was that he never again re-enter the United States of America, a country he had never visited before being extradited to it.

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