The public consultation recently invited lawyers to submit a response to something that the UK government has been planning to do – jail online copyright pirates for up to ten years.
The question presented by the public consultation was – Should the maximum custodial sentence available for online and offline copyright infringement of equal seriousness be harmonised at ten years?
This was the British and Irish Law, Education and Technology Association’s (BILETA) response to that question:
“There is no need to change the existing law [because] legitimate means to tackle large-scale commercial online copyright infringement are not only already available, but also currently being used.”
It was during March when the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) commissioned to carry out a study that would compare whether a decade behind the bars is suitable for online pirates. The study was carried out by Martin Brassell and Ian Goodyer. They both pointed out that the online pirates can only be sentenced up to two years. The ten year penalty is for physical infringements.
According to Mike Weatherley MP, IP adviser to the prime minister, this difference between online and offline crime will send a message that online crimes are comparatively less significant to offline crimes. And if the government approves the ten year penalty for online infringement, then they will be sending the appropriate message that copyright infringement will not be tolerated.
But according to the legal eagles from BILETA, although the prison capacity has been increased, the number of people currently being held in the prison is also rising. And that if this penalty is applied, there won’t be enough spaces in the prisons to hold the prisoners.