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Sentences for online piracy to increase via new Digital Economy Bill

By | Published on Wednesday 6 July 2016

House Of Parliament

Another Digital Economy Bill? Oh yes. The UK government, which is apparently still operational, despite all signs to the contrary, yesterday unveiled its latest Digital Economy Bill, which, ministers say, is part of an “ambition for the UK to be the most digital nation in the world”. Well, it’s good to have ambitions.

Like the previous Digital Economy Act in 2010, the new legislation covers various areas of law related to the damn internet, with a whole load of stuff about digital infrastructure, the way government makes use of data, and yet more measures to protect the kids from all that porn. And in among it all there are some amendments to copyright law too.

That includes proposals to increase the possible sentences for online copyright infringers to bring them in line with the penalties for those who bootleg CDs and DVDs. Former MP Mike Weatherley noted the disparity between the possible sentences for those running industrial-level online piracy operations as opposed to those illegally producing physical product in his reports on intellectual property law back in 2014, resulting in a report by the Intellectual Property Office on the issue the following year.

Launching the new bill, Digital Economy Minister – that’ll be that Ed Vaizey – said: “We want the UK to be a place where technology ceaselessly transforms the economy, society and government. The UK has always been at the forefront of technological change, and the measures in the Digital Economy Bill provide the necessary framework to make sure we remain world leaders”.

The government hopes that the new bill could become law next spring. You know, assuming we haven’t abolished all laws and are just hoping everyone voluntarily behaves by then.