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UK government wants 10 year jail sentences for online piracy

Following on from an almost year-long consultation on the matter, the UK government has decided that two-year maximum prison sentences for those caught sharing copyrighted material online might not be enough, and now wants to push for a ten-year maximum sentence instead.

According to an Intellectual Property Office report, this is partially down to the fact that the penalty for physical copyright infringement is ten years, so an increased sentence for online pirates would bring the two more in-line: “These offences are currently punishable by a maximum of two years’ imprisonment. By comparison, the maximum custodial sentence for infringement in respect of physical goods is 10 years”.

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“In July 2015, the government consulted on proposed changes to the maximum term for online copyright infringement, increasing it from two to 10 years to make it consistent with the penalty for physical copyright infringement”. Apparently this new ten-year sentence has been settled on despite objections from the Open Rights Group (ORG), amongst others.

However, The Inquirer got in touch with ORG for comment on the matter, who noted that while the maximum sentence for online piracy could increase, the minister has committed to narrowing the scope of the offence: “We note that the minister has committed to narrowing the scope of the offence. We need to see that it relates to genuinely commercial infringements,” said Jim Killock, executive director at the ORG.

It is also worth noting that the Intellectual Property Office report on this matter notes that a “response system” is in place that will give infringers a warning, likely in the form of a cease and desist, before they get hit with criminal charges.

KitGuru Says: The UK government has been making a lot of effort to crack down on piracy in the last few years and it looks like that isn’t slowing down any time soon. There are still a few stages this proposal has to go through first before it becomes law anyway so we should get more details later on. 

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