UK Proposes To Tighten IP Protections Online 06/07/2016 by Dugie Standeford for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The United Kingdom Digital Economy Bill, floated this week, aims to “enable access to fast digital communication services for citizens and businesses, to enable investment in digital communications infrastructure, to shape the emerging digital world to the benefit of children, consumers and businesses, and to support the digital transformation of government, enabling the delivery of better public services, world leading research and better statistics,” the UK government said in the document. The bill is available here. Among other things, the measure toughens intellectual property protections online. The most controversial IP-related provision appears to be the decision to increase the maximum jail sentence for criminal copyright offences committed online from two years to the maximum 10-year sentence that applies to “physical” infringements. If enacted, the law will help rights holders and the police combat internet piracy, said Hogan Lovells (London) attorney Alastair Shaw, a member of the firm’s IP, media and technology practice. The proposal could mean that people who share or link to files could be jailed, an excessive punishment, said Open Rights Group Executive Director Jim Killock. The main “physical” criminal copyright offences in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 carry a 10-year maximum sentence while the provisions governing online infringement, introduced in 2003 in the course of adopting the EU Information Society Directive into national law, provide for only two years’ imprisonment, the government said. After a consultation last year, it decided to make the potential sentences the same. The bill also amends the Registered Designs Act 1949 to give design owners the option of marking a product with the address of a website which links the product with the relevant registered design numbers. That offers an alternate way of providing the constructive notice needed to prevent someone who infringes the design from later claiming he was unaware of the registration and should be excused from paying damages to the owner. A third change concerns Section 73 of the 1988 Act, which exempts cable operators such as Virgin Media from paying copyright licence fees to retransmit core public service broadcaster channels, the document said. The exemption came about to support the specific policy goal of supporting the development of cable TV infrastructure in the 1980s and ’90s, but is no longer relevant due to the development of multi-channel and digital TV on satellite, terrestrial and Internet-based platforms, it said. The bill repeals Section 73 because, in the government’s view, with millions of cable subscribers, many of whom now use the service for more than television, “the objective of developing cable infrastructure is now met though other legislative measures such as reform of the electronic communications code” (also part of the bill). Potential “Excessive” Sanctions? The criminal sanction amendment and the provisions for online registered design marking “show the efforts the UK is making to bring copyright and design law more fully into the 21st century,” Shaw said. The days of physical pirate tapes and discs are not gone, but with the most damaging copyright infringements now taking place on the internet, “aligning the 10 year maximum sentence and upping the possible fines gives rights holders and law enforcement agencies more firepower in the fight against online infringement,” he emailed. “Copyright needs to be protected but the proposals could mean that individuals who share or link to files could receive custodial sentences – even if they have not made any financial gain, ORG’s Killock emailed. That would be excessive and could mean that sharing a file online might lead to a longer sentence than physical theft, he said. The bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on 5 July. The date of second reading hasn’t been announced. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Dugie Standeford may be reached at email@example.com."UK Proposes To Tighten IP Protections Online" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.