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Digital pirates could face up to 10 years in prison under new UK rules

Staff Writer |
Individuals responsible for pirating TV shows could face up to 10 years in prison under tough new rules governing abuse of copyright in the UK.

Among the provisions of the new UK Digital Economy Act is an extension of the maximum prison term for anyone for infringing copyright with a view to profit from it, to 10 years from the two years set by the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.

The new Act redefines the offence. An offender is now someone who “infringes copyright in a work by communicating the work to the public” if he or she either “intends to make a gain” for himself or someone else, or “knows or has reason to believe that communicating the work to the public will cause loss to the owner of the copyright, or will expose the owner of the copyright to a risk of loss”.

The new wording – designed to meet the realities of copyright abuse in the age of digital streaming – substitutes for the previous, somewhat outdated definition of someone who “makes an article specifically designed or adapted for making copies of a particular copyright work”, as defined under the 1988 Act.

There is no change clearly specified for the lesser offence of possessing an illegal copy, which under the 1988 Act carries a maximum penalty of three months in prison or a fine.

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