You might want to think twice before hitting the download button on a pirated-content website in the future – the UK government's Digital Economy Bill is now in force, increasing the maximum prison term for copyright infringement to ten years.
Initially poised for introduction last year, that's a five-fold increase on the previous two-year maximum sentence. It follows a study by the UK Intellectual Property Office that suggested online copyright infringement could be dealt with using similar sanctions as those dished out for counterfeiting. This goes against the wishes of the vast majority who discussed the bill as part of a public consultation.
However, it's unlikely that the casual downloader would be hit so hard. According to a previous statement from the government, “[...] a maximum sentence of 10 years allows the courts to apply an appropriate sentence to reflect the scale of the offending.” So, essentially, this decade-long prison term should be reserved for the members of the sharing groups whose names appear alongside the most widely-anticipated (and distributed) torrents and downloads, rather than Joe Bloggs pirateers. They'll still get stung, but in a way that reflects "the scale of the offending". [TorrentFreak]