10-Year Prison Sentences for UK Pirates Creeps Closer
Ashley Allen / 4 years ago
A bill with the unanimous support of MPs, which could see online pirates be sentenced to up to ten years in prison, is one step closer to becoming law. The Digital Economy Bill will scrap the two-year maximum sentence for illegally distributing copyrighted materials currently in place and will fall in line with the legislation that controls physical piracy (such as CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays).
“We will help businesses from attacks on their intellectual property. Burglars can be sentenced to ten years in prison, but the criminal gangs that are making vast sums of money through exploiting the online creations of others only face a two-year sentence. We will increase this to ten,” Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport, told the House of Commons this week (via TorrentFreak).
“Criminals like Paul Mahoney, who profited by almost £300,000 and cost industry millions by facilitating access to illegal films on the Internet, need to be sent a clear message,” Bradley added. “We need to ensure that enforcement agencies and their partners have the right set of tools to tackle all types of piracy, which is why this clause is so important.”
Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire, while supportive of the new legislation, expressed her concern that casual pirates – those who illegally downloaded materials but do not profit from them – could be targeted by these measures.
“I am pleased that clause 26 amends the current legislation on copyright to bring online criminal penalties for copyright infringement in line with off-line penalties, with a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment. This will target anyone who infringes copyright in order to make a commercial gain,” Debbonaire told fellow MPs. “However, I wish to stress to hon. Members and to members of the public that this is not to catch out people who download music and unwittingly download or stream something illegal. I want to make that clear in adding my support to this measure. As far as I understand it, it targets the criminals who make money from distributing music to which they do not have the rights.”
In response to Debbonaire’s concerns, Bradley confirmed that casual pirates would not be targeted under the stricter new legislation.
The Bill will go to the Committee and Report stages before its third reading in Parliament.