Legal Group Attacks Plans to Raise Piracy Sentences to 10 Years

By Tom Pritchard on at

Remember last month when the government decided that it was going to extend the maximum jail sentence for pirates to 10 years? A legal group has come out and told the government what everybody else was thinking: that it's a fucking stupid idea.

Well, the British and Irish Law, Education and Technology Association (BILETA) officially said that the proposal was "unacceptable, infeasible and unaffordable". But we can all agree that it's a stupid proposal. BILETA also made a point of saying that there doesn't need to be a change in the law because "legitimate means to tackle large-scale commercial online copyright infringement are not only already available, but also currently being used."

According to BILETA, the government simply cannot afford to jail online copyright infringers for up to 10 years because the prison system is crowded enough as it is. Plus there are a whole bunch of practical reasons that make it incredibly difficult to identify online copyright infringers properly. Like the fact that identifying domain owners is difficult due to estimates that say the commercial WHOIS database is only 46 per cent accurate. They won't all go around bragging about it on Facebook, after all.

These proposals came after the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) commissioned a study to determine whether a decade behind bars was a suitable deterrent for infringing copyright online. The research pointed out that offline copyright infringement carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, whereas for online the maximum is two. This caused the Prime Minister's IP advisor Mike Weatherly to declare that this was totally unfair, and the sentencing laws need to be the same so that people will realise online copyright infringement won't be tolerated.

The proposals are designed to go after people distributing pirated content online, rather than your average Game of Thrones torrenter, but it's still worth pointing out that some violent crimes carry maximum sentences of less than ten years. Is copyright infringement, online or off, really that much of a problem? [The Register]