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UK gov: should we have 10 year sentences for internet pirates?

by Mark Tyson on 20 July 2015, 09:52

Tags: UK Government

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The UK government is considering tougher sentencing for those found guilty of online piracy activities. A consultation about changes to The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 has been published. Changes are sought to bring the sentencing for online piracy activity in line with that for copyright infringement of physical goods – between two and a maximum of ten years. Currently the maximum sentence for online piracy activity is two years.

A copy of the consultation paper, entitled 'Changes to penalties for online copyright infringement', is available to download here (PDF).

The newly published paper suggests there should be changes to The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 "now that online infringement is so much more significant". It isn't the first time that the government has pondered over the sentencing for online piracy. Back in 2005 the Gowers Review recommended that the penalty for online copyright infringement should be increased from two to ten years because "The intention and impact of physical and online infringement are the same". Following that report criminal sentencing wasn't changed but maximum fines were increased from £5,000 to £50,000 and subsequently the upper limit on fines has been removed.

Earlier this year, in March, an independent review of the IP laws entitled 'Penalty Fair?', downloadable here (PDF), called for another look at harmonising online and physical IP laws. The central argument behind the review was that: "There is currently a disparity in sentencing between online and offline crime that needs to be harmonised. This sends out all the wrong messages. Until this is changed, online crime will be seen as less significant than traditional theft."

In the latest consultation paper the Intellectual Property Office raised some newer concerns about online piracy. Over the years such activity has grown to get stronger criminal links and the government says that "criminal gangs are making vast sums of money through exploiting the creations of others, causing real harm to those individuals, their industry and the wider economy." A minister at the IP Office said that creative industries contribute £7 billion to the UK economy and need greater protections – especially from "commercial-scale online offending".

As this is a consultation paper, the government is seeking responses upon its proposals. Individuals and businesses are asked to answer the question: "Should the maximum custodial sentence available for online and offline copyright infringement of equal seriousness be harmonised at 10 years?" and are further asked to "justify your answer and support with evidence where possible". Reponses must be received by 17th August 2015. For further details see page seven of the consultation PDF.

HEXUS Forums :: 56 Comments

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No, that's absurd. There's no loss to imaginary property being ‘stolen’.
Read the title, pooped a little.

I wonder what the statute of limitations is on this sort of thing..

OK so I have a mate who was into warez. This was before torrents back when the only way to get legit releases was to go on boards or actively be a part of the warez scene, he went with the latter. He was good at it, was what they called a techop, he ran the servers themselves, set them up did all the scripting and security etc.

Anyway in Dec 2001 when the raids happened, he was only 16 (had been masquerading as an older guy to get respect) he had to pack up all his stuff and destroy a helluva lot of parts because he was sure he was gonna get picked up. Luckily his security meant he was never identified, but some friends he had become vrey close with were, one of em ended up with a 7 year sentence. So he quit.

For a month. Then he rationalized that by only working on Asia servers he would be safe (young and dumb). Someone was busted, leading to a ring of his servers, again he was at risk. So he quit, again…for a few months. Then he went into internal only servers, the most private and protected ones, refusing all work on other sites. Then one of THOSE got busted, and again all his **** had to be destroyed.

In the end he quit because the threat of prison to a then-18 year old, for something that was a HOBBY, was just…terrifying. So he stayed out, just using a few leech accounts, and moving onto torrents when they became the big thing.

But now, hearing this, over just owning copyright works, is seriously giving him some bad memories and is actually considering just deleting it all ha.
That's a very draconian suggestion they have suggested, you get less for rape, murder or gbh ! I think it has been proven before that music torrents mostly help boost sales, don't know about movies or anything but i'd think it would be a similar situation.
It's funny that theres no charges or sentencing for the massive banker frauds or the fact that thousands have died due to having their disabled benefits taken away or any other scandal involving this government. No, this is what they concentrate on.
Yet another example of the government favouring the needs of private corporations over the protection of its people.

Of course now that encryption is to be banned, ISPs will have to store logs/history of all of the customers traffic and we are not going to be a ‘passively tolerant’ society, there is no where for the criminals to hide…. but its ok because if you are doing nothing wrong then there is no problem right? These totalitarian shifts would never be abused….. right?

I'm just waiting for the announcement of a new ‘special police’ to deal with these criminals who haven't been subject to a proper investigation.