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UK Copyright Infringers to face Tougher Sentences?

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Those found guilty of commercial-scale online copyright infringement may soon face much longer jail terms.

Currently, the offence is only punishable by a maximum jail term of two years but the government in the United Kingdom (UK) has launched a consultation on plans to increase the maximum sentence to ten years.

The proposals, which will increase the sanctions for those who infringe the rights of copyright holders for large-scale financial gain, are designed to ensure the sanctions online copyright offences better match those relating to the copyright infringement of physical goods.

It is thought the proposals, new measures will increase the sanctions for criminals who infringe the rights of copyright holders for large-scale financial gain and will make clear that online copyright infringement is no less serious than physical infringement.

Commenting on the consultation, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, who is the Intellectual Property Minister, stated:

"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."

Also commenting, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe, who is the Head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), 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.

"PIPCU therefore welcomes today's consultation for harmonising the criminal sanctions for online copyright infringement."

At present, commercial-scale online copyright infringement is only punishable by a maximum of 2 years imprisonment, by comparison the maximum sentence for infringement of physical goods is 10 years. The UK's creative industries, including film, television and music, are worth £7.1 billion per year to the UK economy and support more than 1.6 million jobs. The new proposals will offer the creative industries further protection from large-scale online copyright offenders and act as a significant deterrent.

Commenting further, Eddy Leviten, who is the Director General of the Alliance for Intellectual Property, stated:

"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."

Should you wish to view it, the consultation 'Changes to Penalties for Online Copyright Infringement', is available here.

Contact us - Copyright Litigation in the UK

Although intellectual property litigation is conducted in specialist courts across the UK and Europe, enforcing an intellectual property right or defending an action for IP infringement doesn't need to be prohibitively expensive. To see how we can help you, click here to contact us today or call 0800 160 1298.

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