Cameron wants to increase the maximum jail term for online piracy from two to ten years because… claiming that only people who make money out of piracy need to worry.
The law concluded that the criminal sanctions for copyright infringement available under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) could be amended to bring them into line with related offenses, such as counterfeiting.
However legal experts say that the law as worded will end up locking up file sharers and the proposed extension is disproportionate and ineffective.
The British and Irish Law, Education and Technology Association (BILETA) has said that changes to the current law were not needed.
BILETA argues that the proposal is not affordable, not feasible and incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
“The freedom of expression may be interfered with if there is a ‘pressing social need’ and is proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued,” the group notes, adding that the standards for a pressing social need are often not met in piracy cases.
The Open Rights Group Executive Director Jim Killock warned Torrent Freak that the law wraps up businesses and people who ‘affect prejudicially’ a copyright owner.
“There is no requirement of intent to harm, merely that the user should have known that they were violating copyright law.
This means that anyone who uploads to Pirate Bay uploaders or even those who merely share files could potentially be targeted.
“The result is that people who are not really criminals, but are rather just naive users, may face punitive claims. At the very least, the risk of criminal claims means naive infringers can be pushed into accepting heavy punishments to remove the risk of long jail sentences,” Killock said.
The consultation is open until this coming Monday and the Government will release the individual responses and publish a summary report afterwards.