Changes to Copyright Infringement penalties coming
18 months after I received a letter from the the previous Intellectual Property Minister Lord Younger telling me of the review into online penalties-something I had press for in the previous 2 years in the debates on the IP and Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bills-I have received a letter from the new Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe confirming that the review has recommended an increase in penalties and a consultation on this will; now take place. This is very good news for those wanting to protect their IP in the digital economy.
Changes to Copyright Infringement penalties coming—-maybe!
During the passage of the Intellectual Property Bill in the Lords I made the point that criminal offences for online copyright theft have maximum penalties of two years’ imprisonment whereas criminal offences for physical copyright theft have maximum penalties of 10 years’ imprisonment.
Criminal sanctions should not be dependant on whether the offence is taking place in an online or physical environment. Intellectual property is being stolen, whichever format is being used. These are exactly the same offences—they are just being committed online—and therefore should have the same maximum penalties.
The Government at the time last July did not agree with the amendment I put down to the Bill to equalize the penalties but it now seems thanks to my Lib Dem colleague Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business,who has a record of support for copyright they are reconsidering their position.
Lord Younger of Leckie the Intellectual Property Minister has written a letter to me (see below) saying there is a study under way into the sentences available and their impact which will be completed by December this year. The Government have now put the research project out to tender.