In the past file sharers have been threatened with criminal charges, depsite not seeking any financial gain or running a business. They may be misguided, but we have to ask whether they are really posing a risk to the public and therefore deserving of a criminal conviction. Now in 2015 the Intellectual Property Office are suggesting people like them should face the posssiblity of a 10-year jail sentence.
Submitting your personal details to the form on this page, and on the next page compose a letter that will be emailed to the IPO's Copyright and Enforcement Directorate.
Please compose your own letter and add your own arguments, but feel free to use these as guidelines.
As the Government puts copyright sentencing under review, they want to hear your what you've got to say. And with only 1 question, you can have your say on this issue in 5 minutes.
Please email the Copyright and Enforcement Directorate via the form with the answer to this question:
"Should the maximum custodial sentence available for online and offline copyright infringement of equal seriousness be harmonised at 10 years?"
We have had brilliant responses from our members to consultations before - particularly on copyright. Your responses have formed the law that brought us parody rights last year, and the copyright report in Europe this month.
The IPO is consulting on proposals to increase the maximum prison sentence for criminal online copyright infringement to 10 years, aiming to match sanctions for online copyright infringement with physical copyright infringement. The logic being that similar offences should attract similar penalties—regardless of the platform used.
Whilst we agree with the IPO's logic, their proposals are problematic. The existing offence they are referring to, as outlined in section 107 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act, can be brought against both:
This second offence is not only vague and broad in definition, but also requires no consideration of the intent of the offender.
It would be easy for a few misguided people to be caught up in this law. For those who share their karaoke songs with no criminal intent, to be threatened with the kind of lengthy sentence that hardened thieves and violent offenders often escape is just inappropriate. It also places excessive power in the hands of copyright enforcement organisations, who can claim to such individuals that their estimations of financial damage could result in a possible jail sentence.
Similarly, businesses who operate legitimately may be worried or threatened because of this “strict liability” offence. They cannot argue that they have no intention to harm. The stakes are very high.
ORG believes that if the IPO want to change the sentencing, they have to reform the underlying offence.
The question we have to ask is, are these people a risk to the public?