Those that “infringe the rights of copyright holders for large-scale financial gain” in the UK could face increased sentences.
The British government has published a consultation on increasing the penalty for those committing copyright infringement on a large scale. At the moment, the maximum penalty for online piracy is a two year prison sentence, whist the maximum for copyright infringement of physical goods is 10 years.
The consultation comes after a study published in March called Penalty Fair?. It was commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to provide an evidence-based view on whether the criminal sanctions for copyright infringement under current laws are proportionate.
Head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), DCI Peter Ratcliffe said: “Online or offline, intellectual property theft is a crime. With advances in technology and the popularity of the internet, more and more criminals are turning to online criminality and so it is imperative that our prosecution system reflects our moves to a more digital world.’
Eddy Leviten of the Alliance for Intellectual Property added: ‘This consultation is very welcome as we feel there is a clear anomaly in the way that online copyright infringement by criminal enterprises is treated by the justice system.’