Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Online piracy could soon land you 10 years in jail

The government is considering new plans to bolster penalties handed out to online pirates.

Under new plans, infringing copyright online could land you a jail term of 10 years.

That’s a significant increase on the current maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

According to the BBC, the government hopes the tougher sentences will act as a “significant deterrent”.

“Groups that represent the country’s creative industry – particularly film and music – have been lobbying hard for this for some time,” reads the report.

It continues: “They argue that a couple of years in jail just isn’t a sufficient deterrent to prevent online piracy, and that the law is well out of date.”

It’s alleged that the new measures will only really be targeted at distributors of pirated content, rather than those downloading the infringing files.

The police are reportedly “clear to point out” that the increased sentences won’t be handed out to “small-time downloaders”.

For comparison, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the maximum sentences in the UK
that are equal to, or less than, the new proposed maximum penalty for online
piracy (source: The Law Pages):

  • Possession of firearm with intent to cause fear of violence (10 years)
  • Possessing or distributing prohibited weapon or ammunition (10 years)
  • Violent disorder (5 years)
  • Making threats to kill (10 years)
  • Administering poison, so as to endanger life (10 years)
  • Racially aggravated assault (7 years)
  • Carrying loaded firearm in public place (7 years)
  • Failure to disclose information about terrorism (5 years)
  • Incest of a person under 13 (7 years)
  • Indecent assault (10 years)
  • Cruelty to children (10 years)
  • Detention of woman in a brothel (2 years)

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe, head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, said: “Online or offline, intellectual property theft is a crime.”

The Chief Inspector added: “With advances in technology and the popularity of the internet, more and more criminals are turning to online criminality and so it is imperative that our prosecution system reflects our moves to a more digital world.”

Related: Best Movie Streaming Services

The news come after a High Court ruling declared that ripping CDs and DVDs for personal use is illegal once again, after the original legislation was overturned last October.

Speaking regarding the possible new piracy penalty measures, UK Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said: “The government takes copyright crime extremely seriously – it hurts businesses, consumers, and the wider economy both on and offline.”

He continues: “Our creative industries are worth more than £7 billion to the UK economy and it’s important to protect them from online criminal enterprises.”

“By toughening penalties for commercial-scale online offending we are offering greater protections to businesses and sending a clear message to deter criminals,” adds the minister.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.