The UK government is planning to drastically increase the maximum prison sentence for those found guilty of illegally sharing music online, with those convicted of piracy looking to face up to 10 years rather than the 2 years as is currently outlined by UK law.
The proposal from the Conservatives is intended to act as a substantial deterrent for frequent downloaders, with the Intellectual Property Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, saying: “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.”
10 years is, of course, a ludicrously high penalty for such a crime. Consider that the average sentence for someone found guilty of rape is sentenced to just 8 years, and there is certainly a case to be argued against the prison sentence for piracy being so substantial.
Those who lobby against prison sentences for piracy in general continue to point to how the market should change to factor in the problem of illegal downloading, with streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify serving as good examples of how piracy can be combated by the entertainment industry itself by offering alternatives. While piracy undoubtedly impacts upon the financial bottom line of companies operating within the film and music industries, its doubtful that prison sentences serve as that much of a deterrent for those who take part in the illegal downloading and distribution of copyrighted materials.
As seems to be a recurring theme for the UK government, this seems to be yet another example of them introducing laws that pertain to the Internet, despite not really having any clue about how the Internet actually works.
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