Copyright trolls could threaten ordinary Internet users with 10 years in prison if the Government's Digital Economy Bill goes through unchanged. It's less than a week until the Government has to put forward amendments to fix this.
Let's put pressure on the Government minister Jo Johnson to sort out the Bill.
The Intellectual Propety Office has responded to our letters. But we don't think they've explained adequately why they can't or shouldn't introduce a threshold for criminality that would deal with our concerns.
The Bill criminalises minor copyright infringement. The Government says they only want to increase the penalties for activities like running websites that help people download copyright works. But that's not what the proposed legislation says.
The offence criminalises infringements where money hasn’t been paid or there is a “risk of loss” - which means nearly anything published online without permission could attract a jail sentence. It could be filesharing, or reusing a Disney character in a gif.
The Government has now been told in Parliament twice that they risk helping copyright trolls.
Copyright trolls are legal firms that send letters to people who they - often incorrectly - suspect of unauthorised downloading of copyright works. The trolls threaten court action unless the individual pays a large sum of money to go away. It's tantamount to extortion.
If copyright trolls can tell people they could go to prison for 10 years, it will frighten more people into payment whether they've done anything wrong or not.