Copyright law as slowly evolved as technology progresses, particularly in regards to digital theft. Much easier to do and with fewer little consequences than physical theft, potential new laws are aiming to raise the stakes for would-be pirates of digital copyrighted materials. The government has currently revealed outlines for this, which could see anyone found guilty of copyright infringement facing as long as 10 years in prison.
Under current laws, anyone found guilty of commercial copyright infringement can expect up to two years in prison. The new law would see a massive increase for this punishment, which has been revealed after consultations in regards to intellectual property, took place.
The most common form of online piracy would not actually result in any punishment laid out in these new plans. The majority of Internet users who download do so for personal use, whereas this law would affect those committing commercial copyright infringement.
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, minister of intellectual property has set out these new proposals. The needs for more up to date laws, one that allow digital theft to be more in line with physical theft, are the reasoning behind them. ‘The Penalty Fair? Review’ has claimed that digital theft and offences are on the same level as physical equivalents, therefore making the recommendations for the changes found in the proposal.
The new Conservative government originally made claims in their 2015 manifesto that they would “toughen sentencing and use new technology to protect the public". Baroness Neville-Rolfe made a statement echoing this sentiment.
"The government takes copyright crime extremely seriously -- it hurts businesses, consumers and the wider economy both on and offline,
Our creative industries are worth more than £7 billion to the UK economy and it’s important to protect them from online criminal enterprises.
By toughening penalties for commercial-scale online offending we are offering greater protections to businesses and sending a clear message to deter criminals."
As measures to bring the proposal ahead through commons begin, anyone can make their thoughts heard about the potential new law, from the individual to larger organisations. You can email the Intellectual Property Office firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the proposal can be found at the Gov.UK website.
The main target for these new laws would be pirating sites and proxies that allow them to remain active. Directly affected industries, including music, film and digital entertainment have long been lobbying for more stringent punishments to protect their intellectual properties.
Previous changes happened back in 2005 after the Gowers Review, which saw the then Labour party increase fines for breaking digital copyright infringement laws. Although potential prison terms were discussed, a significant increase in fines was enforced instead. Previous fines ranged from £5,000 all the way to £50,000, whereas the new law saw potential fines now becoming unlimited.
This comes of the news that the High Court has recently overturned another copy right law that was introduced in October last year. This allowed ripping of material such as film and music for personal use only, but has since been revoked after ruling in favour of Basca, the union for musicians.
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