Consultation: Penalties for Online Copyright Infringement

September 9, 2008

The UK Intellectual Property Office launched a consultation in August on a proposal to increase the penalties for online copyright infringement where proceedings take place in a magistrates’ court. See here for the consultation paper. The current maximum fine is £5,000 but it is proposed to increase this to £50,000.

The Gowers Review recommended (Recommendation 36) that the penalty for online commercial infringement should be increased to ten years’ imprisonment to bring parity with commercially dealing (but not showing) in pirated works. It also proposed that the penalty for consumers infringing online to an extent that prejudicially affects the rights holder should also be extended to ten years, again to bring parity with physical infringement. The consultation paper, taking up a suggestion from ‘Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy’ (which was published by the Departments for Culture, Media and Sports, Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and Innovation, Universities and Skills in February), goes somewhat further than that and includes options which would set an exceptionally high maximum fine for copyright infringement.

Nick Cunningham of Wragge & Co LLP is leading an SCL response to the consultation and an e-mail seeking input from members has been circulated. Nick said: ‘’This is an important initiative. The proposals include changes that would have a substantial impact on the public perception of copyright infringement. It also is a much more open consultation than has been suggested in the press and I believe that SCL members can genuinely influence the development of policy in this area’.

You can e-mail Nick Cunningham with your views at no later than Tuesday 30 September 2008 please.