7 July 2016Copyright

First reading for UK bill on ten-year piracy prison terms

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

The Digital Economy Bill had its first reading on Tuesday, July 5, in the House of Commons.

The first reading of a bill is the first stage of its passage through parliament and usually takes place without a debate.

The next stage is a second reading, which is the first opportunity for members of parliament to debate the main principles and purpose of a bill.

It then goes through a committee and report stage before being debated at a third reading and going through the same process in the UK parliament’s upper house, the House of Lords.

No date has been set for the second reading yet.

The government is pressing ahead with the proposal despite it being opposed by a majority of respondents to a survey carried out by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) last year.

In July last year, the IPO launched a consultation in which it sought feedback on its plan to increase the maximum sentence for “commercial-scale” online infringement.

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

Out of 1,032 respondents, 1,011 said they were against the idea.

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

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26 April 2016   The UK government has confirmed that it will introduce a maximum ten-year prison sentence for those guilty of engaging in online piracy.
12 January 2016   The UK government’s proposal to introduce a ten-year sentence for online pirates has been overwhelmingly opposed.