12 January 2016Copyright

Don’t jail online pirates for ten years, UKIPO told

The UK government’s proposal to introduce a ten-year sentence for online pirates has been overwhelmingly opposed.

Responding to a consultation launched by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), 1,011 out of 1,032 respondents said they were against the idea of introducing a ten-year jail term for infringement.

Last year WIPR’s sister publication TBO reported that the government had launched a consultation in which it sought feedback on its plan to increase the maximum sentence for “commercial-scale” online infringement from two to ten years.

If implemented, the proposal would have brought the penalty for online offences into line with that for offline infringement.

Respondents were asked: “Should the maximum custodial sentence available for online and offline copyright infringement of equal seriousness be harmonised at ten years?”

The responses, published today, January 12, included comments from affiliates to campaigning organisation Open Rights Group, which was responsible for 91% of the feedback, as well as those in the creative industries, businesses, and private individuals.

Among the comments made against the proposals included one which explained that there was a difference between infringement committed online and physically and that they should not be treated the same.

“Physical requires a sophisticated set-up, whereas online can be done quickly, without specialist equipment and sometimes unwittingly,” the respondent said.

Another said: “Ten years is too high; copyright infringement is not a serious crime.”

A comment in support of the government’s proposals said: “It is important that creativity is respected and rewarded, and those who deliberately infringe or facilitate infringement should face criminal sanctions. Copyright infringement online is no less serious than that of physical, and therefore shouldn’t be treated any differently.”

The consultation responses can be found on the IPO’s website.

In a statement, the IPO said: “The wide range of responses have been analysed and all relevant points investigated. As a result, government is now carefully considering the best way forward.”

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7 July 2016   A UK bill that proposes increasing the maximum prison term for online copyright infringement from two years to ten has been introduced in parliament.