United Kingdom Government planning to consider jail term of up to 10 years for online pirates

To bring it into line with copyright infringement of physical goods, Ministers have launched a discussion on increasing the penalty up to 10 years.

Tougher sentences would act as a “significant deterrent” said the government.


The music and film groups that specifically represent the country’s creative industry have been pressing hard for this for some time.

The argument by them is that a couple of years in jail is not just enough to discourage and prevent online piracy, and that the law is well out dated.

The measures that are put forward are mainly aimed at the distributors of pirated content – the people making copies of movies and releasing them before release, by uploading them to be downloaded by thousands of people.

That’s not the case, as the police are clear to point out, targeted at small-time downloaders even though there are other means and ways to stop that too.

The discussion phase is likely to turn the heat on. Internet rights groups will ask questions as to how the Hollywood and the music industry can have influence over the day-to-day operations of the police. In the end, the industry bodies are financed by record labels and top studios, who have paid for staff to work in police stations with the sole intention of carrying out a formal inquiry against copyright crime.

They also say that the way to “solve” online piracy is to provide reasonably priced, adaptable ways to absorb new music and film and not jail terms.

The industry groups say that Spotify, Netflix and others are proof that this is happening. However, the argument by them is that no legal service regardless of how cheap it is will ever entice those who just do not want to pay for their entertainment.

‘Digital world’

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Intellectual Property Minister said: “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.”

Peter Ratcliffe, Detective Chief Inspector and Head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, 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.”

The discussion aims at calls from the creative industries for more action over copyright offences.