Pirates Courting Longer Sentences


The Government has published a consultation on increasing the penalties for large-scale music pirates and others who infringe the rights of copyright holders for financial gain.

Changes could be introduced that would bring maximum sentences for online copyright infringement in line with infringement of physical goods- up to ten years as opposed to the current two.

Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe commented: “The government takes copyright crime extremely seriously – it hurts businesses, consumers and the wider economy both on and offline. Our creative industries are worth more than £7 billion to the UK economy and it’s important to protect them from online criminal enterprises. By toughening penalties for commercial-scale online offending we are offering greater protections to businesses and sending a clear message to deter criminals”.

Not one to be pipped to the post, Head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe piped up: “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”.

The Gen considers this a move that would have been quite handy for the industry in 2003 and will no doubt discourage large-scale pirates of music and other forms of copyrighted entertainment but seriously, who is using the pirate bay now, with so many options to access music through streaming sites and YouTube? Perhaps now that Google are in the game with their play music subscription service, they will actually start pushing pirate sites down in the rankings but one step at a time- lets imprison them for ten years first.

In another courtroom non-drama this month, it was decided that it is now again illegal to copy CDs for private use in the UK. The High Court has overturned a copyright law introduced last year, which allowed copying films and music for private use. The U-turn follows a Government decision last October to make copying for private use legal, whilst sharing copies remained illegal. The decision was challenged by BASCA, the Musicians’ Union and UK Music who highlighted the pesky issue of a lack of compensation for rights holders. Sadly, this means no more shifty CDR copies of Mumford and Sons albums getting passed around the back of Prime Minster’s Questions in Parliament.

Tune in next time where people ride penny farthing bicycles around and buy vinyl records whilst working from typewriters and enjoying ‘rustic’ meals- otherwise known as an afternoon out in East London (or many other parts of the UK to be fair). Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be!

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