London
06 March 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

UKIPO responds to ORG concerns


The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has fired back at an Open Rights Group (ORG) campaign against new criminal copyright offences contained in the Digital Economy Bill 2016.

ORG argued that the proposed measure, which aims to standardise the maximum sentence for online and physical copyright infringement to 10 years, would result in the criminalisation of minor copyright infringement.

In a statement, the UKIPO said the proposed sentence is “designed to deter and deal with deliberate infringement, while protecting innocent or unwitting infringers”.

“Ten-year sentences would only be applied in the most serious of criminal circumstances.”

“It is highly unlikely that small, unintentional infringement would be caught by this offence. A person who believed that their acts fell within a copyright exception, such as that relating to criticism or review or quotation, would not be guilty of an offence.”

The ORG also argued that potential changes would result in the increase of so called 'copyright trolls', who enforce copyrights purely for monetary gain.

However, the UKIPO responded that, while the government considers the risk of an increase of trolls to be low, it would “periodically review and respond to any concerns”.

The UKIPO said: “It would not be practical for the government to set a specific level of loss or gain at which infringement becomes a criminal offence. This is because the circumstances of each infringement needs to be taken into account.”

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