Feeds

UK fines for IP infringement to rocket

More to cough up for copyright crimes

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

The British government plans a tenfold increase in the penalties for criminal breaches of intellectual property law. Infringement of IP laws will be punishable by fines of up to £50,000 rather than the current £5,000, according to Government plans.

The measures, though, do not involve increasing the possible jail sentences for online infringement as proposed by 2006's Gowers Review of Intellectual Property.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has consulted with the public and industry on possible changes to sentencing and has received support for the increase in the penalties for copyright and other IP law infringement.

"Government will therefore work to identify the suitable legislative options for taking this forward," said its report on the consultation process.

The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property recommended that the punishments for IP law infringement be the same regardless of whether the offence was on the internet or to do with physical goods.

Someone engaged in the piracy of physical goods for commercial gain can face 10 years in jail. The Gowers Review proposed making that true for online infringement as well. Though the Government accepted all Gowers' recommendations, it rejected this one when it came to formulating its consultation.

"It is Government policy that prison should be used mainly for serious and dangerous offenders and that sentences should only be as long as necessary for punishment and public protection," said the consultation, which rejected even asking whether jail sentences should be increased. "It is worth noting that the Crown Courts already deal with the more serious IP cases under general law such as the Fraud Act 2006."

Instead, the Government decided to consult on increasing the maximum fines available in all copyright or IP cases to £50,000.

It offered industry and the public the choice of keeping the law unchanged, where fines are capped at £5,000 in England and Wales and £10,000 in Scotland; increasing fines to £50,000 for copyright infringement; and increasing fines to £50,000 for all IP infringement.

The majority of respondents backed the third option, and the Government said it would create legislation to implement that idea.

"On the introduction of an exceptional statutory maxima [higher fine caps], responses were generally positive, believing it would serve as a deterrent for would-be offenders," said the IPO's report on the consultation.

Responses were largely from industry bodies representing copyright holders, such as the UK Film Council, publishers' associations and game developers' representatives. Though the increase in fines was welcomed, people responding to the consultation warned against their indiscriminate use.

"There was concern that this level of penalty should be used with care and only when the case required it," said the IPO's report. "A few responses thought that exceptional statutory maxima should be set in accordance with the seriousness of the offence and the profit gained. Several noted that the courts would need to set a fine appropriate to the circumstances for each case."

All of the respondents who agreed with the need for an increase in the fines said that the increase should apply not just to copyright infringement but to all IP-related offences.

See: The report on the consultation (8-page/261KB pdf)

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
UK.gov's Open Source switch WON'T get rid of Microsoft, y'know
What do you mean, we've ditched Redmond in favour of IBM?!
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
US Social Security 'wasted $300 million on an IT BOONDOGGLE'
Scrutiny committee bods probe derailed database project
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves
Big Content could get the right to order ISPs to stop traffic
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.