The United Kingdom will soon be imposing a 10-year maximum sentence in order to repel online piracy. The Digital Economy Bill, which is now on its second reading in the Parliament, intends to put away online violators with a penalty that is normally meted for hardened criminals.
Anti-piracy groups such as the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) have often seek sharper punishments for those committing fraud rather than the appropriate charge of infringement. Currently, UK's copyright regulation offers only a two-year custodial sentence. Under the new law, offenders will be tried as infringers but their sentencing will carry enough weight. Pirates selling copyrighted CDs, DVDs and other related materials can go to jail for up to ten years.
The Digital Economy Bill has a new draft which was published last July. Law makers are also eyeing amendments for sections of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 to better suppress the proliferation of online piracy. Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has pointed out that the government will assist businesses from attacks against intellectual property. She has added that the two-year sentence for criminal gangs who prey on online creations of others will be increased to ten.
In a consultation response, the UK government has cited that copyright infringement warrants a longer sentence considering that, in a case, five defendants have received punishments totaling to 17 years for releasing more than 2,500 of the latest films on the internet. In March 2015, a study commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has concluded that short term jail terms present a message that online infringement is not a serious offense. By increasing the length of punishments, the infraction will be in the same league of rape, rioting, child cruelty and firearms transgressions.
According to Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe, it is vital that creative industries, which are worth more than seven billion pounds to the UK economy, should be protected from online criminal enterprises.