back to article Queen’s Speech: Digital Bill to tackle radicalisation, pirates

A new Digital Bill due to be announced in the Queen’s Speech tomorrow will contain a new 10-year maximum sentencing guideline for online copyright infringement, The Register has learned. Plans for a portmanteau bill were first revealed here back in January. The Bill gathers together a range of unrelated provisions on spectrum …

  1. Chika

    Rhubarb

    Sorry, but this still stinks of kickback to a copyright system that is still fundamentally broken. Until that is all sorted, penalties still have the capacity to be unfair.

    (And what did Fluttershy ever do to you?!?)

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Rhubarb

      Yep. Saw this line

      “Nobody’s going to go after a teenager in their bedroom, unless that teenager is operating a serious scale pirate site. Just as with physical goods, nobody goes after the small fry.”

      and remembered that what it really means is that if you run a search site that allows people to locate links to content but host no content yourself then you'll get 10 years unless of course your search site is called Google.

  2. hplasm
    Pirate

    Queen voice:

    "You do realise, Dread Pirate Man,that if you do make a lot of copies of Steamboat Willie, you will go to jail, and One will probably be dead when you come out. Stop smirking, Charles!"

    "Yarr!"

  3. M7S

    Trust us, this is about "Going after the big fish only, not the small fry"

    As that has worked so well in cases of tax evasion, benefit fraud etc....

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Trust us, this is about "Going after the big fish only, not the small fry"

      As that has worked so well in cases of tax evasion, benefit fraud etc...

      And the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

      "It will only be used against terrorists and serious crime" they promised, and then it was used against dog walkers and people legitimately applying for a school place for their child.

      How do you know when a politician is lying? Their lips are moving. They're breathing.

  4. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Still might be a tad excessive

    Yes, it makes sanse for physical and digital bulk copyright infringement to carry the same penalties.

    BUT isn't a maximum 10 years a bit on the steep side for a financial crime? I mean, you can kill someone and get less! Surely lengthy prison sentences should be reserved for serious crimes against the person? I'd suggest a couple of years max (and some serious confiscation of assets, lengthy community service etc) should be adequate - two years as the cellmate of Big Roger should be more than enough to put most 'pirates' off a life of crime.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still might be a tad excessive

      "[...] two years as the cellmate of Big Roger should be more than enough to put most 'pirates' off a life of crime."

      A friend is a counsellor for ex-prisoners. She has found several times that otherwise respectable people who succumbed to a temptation became real criminals after their release from prison.

      Apparently the first week was the worst - and they would have gone straight if they had been released after that limited experience. Once they adjusted to prison life they learned how to be a criminal - and they felt they had nothing to lose in their future relationship with society..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still might be a tad excessive

        One of those interesting things in society, you make a joke about raping women and you'll be burnt at a stake make a joke about violent male on male rape and everyone has a good laugh double points if it's in a prison setting.

        But yes generally a stint in prison will wreck job prospects and introduce the prisoner to both degrees of brutality in multiple forms that leaves psychological scars. Both leaving the person far more likely to escalated criminal behaviour. Prison is occasionally a useful tool in rehabilitation but rarely is due to societies opinion that it should be a punishment where people are left to rot. Prison in general is the last resort for containing dangerous individuals and punishing those who have caused harm (which can be multiple things.)

        Upsetting the applecart of big media doesn't really fit the bill. But then neither does keeping homeless, troublesome and mentally ill off the streets...

        1. John Lilburne

          Re: Still might be a tad excessive

          Where do you get the idea that this is about big media. The biggest losses are from small creators. Big media suffer loses but not on the same scale. Small creators are looking to sell stuff to large publishers, large publishers reduce the amount they are willing to pay because of piracy. Example: Google pay next to nothing and demand that someone's entire catalog is turned over to them. Otherwise they just let people upload stuff to YT and pocket the ad-revenue. Spotify work on the same principle "It may be peanuts but at least its more than nothing".

          1. Mark 65 Silver badge

            Re: Still might be a tad excessive

            Where do you get the idea that this is about big media. The biggest losses are from small creators. Big media suffer loses but not on the same scale. Small creators are looking to sell stuff to large publishers, large publishers reduce the amount they are willing to pay because of piracy.

            Large publishers reduce the amount they are willing to pay because they are greedy bastards and hold all the power in the relationship. Piracy is neither here nor there - you cannot count piracy as lost sales because the vast majority simply are not.

            1. John Lilburne

              Re: Still might be a tad excessive

              No one has said that all acts of piracy are lost sales - though recent research reckons about 10-20% are for major blockbusters etc.

              http://www.forbes.com/sites/dongroves/2016/05/10/new-research-debunks-one-myth-piracy-site-blocking-does-not-work/#48008445ee38

              The long-tail however, is reckoned to be hardest hit by piracy. IE the non-major media publishers are the least likely to be able to whether a 10-20% drop in revenue.

          2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: Re: Still might be a tad excessive

            Exactly.

            Large companies can lobby for better terms, stiff the competition, and are better placed to deal with regulation.

            Commercial piracy hits indies - eg, the small software house, the small games developer, the small publisher or label - the hardest. So does the takedown framework. Freetards really hate to hear this and will do anything to reject reality. This says a lot about the quality of such arguments in 2016.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still might be a tad excessive

          Agreed, if your prospects are destroyed by being thrown in jail, you have no reason to not commit more crimes when you exit your criminal training center, I mean jail....

          Long jail terms for anything other than violent or very serious crimes is a stupid idea....

    2. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Still might be a tad excessive

      In general I believe that financial crimes should carry a custodial sentence for the more serious ones and financial penalties with asset seizure for the whole spectrum. i.e. you shouldn't be able to commit a £1m fraud and get 6 months and/or £100k fine, it should be £1m forfeiture + £100k fine + custodial as appropriate.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'All property is theft'........hmm

    does that include 'Intellectual property'?

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  6. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    nobody goes after the small fry

    Still - convenient to have a 10year stretch hanging over just about anybody in the country isn't it?

    Want to do a raid on that well known felon Mr Winston Kadogo?

    That would only be justified for a major crime, such as one that carried a 10year sentence - such as having kept a copy of a BBC iPlayer programme more than 30days, or having copied a CD to his MP3 player.

    Fortunately such laws would only be used against major criminals, or terrorists.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: nobody goes after the small fry

      "Fortunately such laws would only be used against major criminals, or terrorists."

      You forgot the /sarc tag

    2. Dr. Mouse

      Re: nobody goes after the small fry

      That would only be justified for a major crime, such as one that carried a 10year sentence

      That is a scary possibility which I hadn't thought of...

      Fortunately such laws would only be used against major criminals, or terrorists.

      This was my thought on the issue. Unless it is actually written into the law, saying "we will only use this for serious offences" holds no water for me. The same has been said about multiple laws recently (since the New York attacks). However, because it has never been written into the law to limit their use, police/CPS/councils will use them where they can. This is either bad planning by the lawmakers, or (more likely) intentional, planned feature creep.

    3. Zakhar

      Re: nobody goes after the small fry

      That is not nice England!

      We would have been so glad to give you the French HADOPI (http://www.hadopi.fr).

      And of course you could have kept it: defending the interest of a dozen of already very rich selected private interests -the majors- against the "small fry" with public money is essential!

    4. Jeremy Allison

      Re: nobody goes after the small fry

      〉Want to do a raid on that well known felon Mr Winston Kadogo?

      Ah, someone else who remembers "Not the Nine o'clock news" :-).

      Few of us left these days...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why bring it inline with physical goods though. They're not the same. Anyone who uses analogies of physical objects for digital systems are living in sin, for they are prime, and only equivalent to themselves.

    I've heard some truly torturous analogies where "stealing wi-fi" is like climbing though your window and watching your TV ...

    NO! It's like walking though your open door and drinking the milk out of your fridge ...

    NO! It's like going round the back and taking your undies off the washing line, wearing them for a week, then putting them back.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's just cover

      "Why bring it inline with physical goods though"

      A DVD seller is necessarily a *commercial* enterprise. The proposed change is to make copyright infringement a crime with up to 10 years for NON commercial infringement.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: That's just cover

        I know it's far too much trouble to RTFA, but anyway.

        There is no change in copyright law. The threshold for bringing a prosecution has not changed. What a jury needs to determine guilt has not changed, either. The only thing that changes here is what a Judge can determine at the end of a trial, after the jury has returned a guilty verdict. A Judge is still free to determine what ever sentence he sees fit, but it can't be longer than 10 years.

        "The proposed change is to make copyright infringement a crime with up to 10 years for NON commercial infringement."

        No. That's not even wrong.

        The word you missed here is "egregious". Which means "extraordinary", which if you're still struggling, means "out of the ordinary".

        You cannot today be infringing on a massive scale, and turn around and argue that Daddy left you a nice trust fund, and that you actually run at a loss, and/or give away anything your operation earns to cat charity. That doesn't work, and nothing changes here either.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's just cover

          But the 10 year penalty for physical goods means (necessarily) a commercial infringement. Physical goods cost money to make and are always sold. Not so with online infringement. To make money from infringing copyright? How can you bill the buyer? i.e. they *should* have different limits, they are *not* equivalent.

          "You cannot today be infringing on a massive scale, and turn around and argue that Daddy left you a nice trust fund, and that you actually run at a loss, and/or give away anything your operation earns to cat charity. "

          No, but you can be part of a torrent that infringes on an industrial scale without it being commercial. Equating the two as equals, and assigning the penalty as equals affects the interpretation of egregious.

          i.e. what will happen once you define the penalty as the same, is, "DVD infringement for 30 copies gets 1 years. This man here was listed as a seed on torrent X, with 100 copies, he should get 3 years.".

          1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: Re: That's just cover

            If you RTFA and my comment, you'd know this won't ensnare casual torrenters. The IPO has made that clear. Egregious hasn't changed.

            I'll explain what you're doing here, anon, because I see it a lot, but you provide one of the best examples of this phenomenon anywhere on the web.

            Rather than offering a dispassionate analysis of the evidence, your comments are entirely driven by a persecution complex. You *need* to see evidence that you're being persecuted. Every day you wake up and need to see evidence of persecution. Persecution is possibly what gives life meaning.

            Just a thought, but maybe this isn't particularly healthy or effective? You seem intelligent enough to deal with copyright issues better than you do, without the paranoia or persecution.

            1. localzuk

              Re: That's just cover

              History is not on your side here Andrew. Whilst the government are saying "oh, it won't be used for XYZ" we have decades of experience of laws being applied far further than they were originally intended to be used. It isn't paranoia, or persecution, it is evidence based conjecture.

              On top of that, this law change (it is a change of copyright law, as sentence maximums are set in the laws themselves, whilst sentencing guidelines within those maximums are not in the laws themselves), is absurd. Sharing some files online, even in bulk, is not the same as selling physical copies.

              I will guarantee nearly 100% that "egregious" won't actually end up in the law at all. Its highly likely instead that the law will merely have a new maximum sentence in it. Also, egregious, is a completely variable term, depending on the person looking at it, and whether they understand the technologies involved (for example, would someone who uploads a lot based on the fact they're part of a private tracker be classed as engaging in egregious infringement?). Its a washy term that means very little in law. Its why things are defined properly in legislation, and when they aren't, we end up with decades of court cases.

        2. msknight Silver badge

          Re: That's just cover

          So... when piracy becomes the norm, then it is no longer egregious.

          Quick! Everyone set up a server farm and offer Justin Bieber for free.

          No, that wouldn't work. You couldn't give his stuff away.

          Damn. They've got us.

        3. Adam 52 Silver badge

          Re: That's just cover

          "I know it's far too much trouble to RTFA, but anyway.

          There is no change in copyright law. The threshold for bringing a prosecution has not changed."

          The article, and this reply, is unclear. Are we talking about extending existing civil liability into the criminal space or are we just talking about upping the sentence for the existing crime?

          Torrenting has never been criminal because there's no commercial element.

          1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: Re: That's just cover

            "Are we talking about extending existing civil liability into the criminal space or are we just talking about upping the sentence for the existing crime?"

            I would have thought that's obvious, not just from the original article, but my comment.

        4. Mark 65 Silver badge

          Re: That's just cover

          The only thing that changes here is what a Judge can determine at the end of a trial, after the jury has returned a guilty verdict. A Judge is still free to determine what ever sentence he sees fit, but it can't be longer than 10 years.

          What twaddle. If the ceiling is raised from 2 to 10 years then Judges are going to use that extra headroom - they certainly aren't going to keep giving out no more than 2 years are they? This law change has bullying and usage creep written into it.

        5. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  8. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shite

    Terms such as "we are not aware", "would limit the risk" & "should not apply" are used where terms like "must not apply" would prevent the use of a law moving down the line.

    Remember when DNA sampling was for convicted offenders only? 1995 introduced, widened in Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, then again in Criminal Justice Act 2003. Now you don't even need to be charged with anything to have your DNA on the PNC.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Now you don't even need to be charged with anything to have your DNA on the PNC."

    You can have an entry on the PNC just for someone thinking you look wrong. Law enforcement institutions breed a hubris that says they are never wrong. Summed up by the phrase used about people who are patently innocent - "Not enough evidence to charge" - AKA "Guilty but too clever - we'll get them next time".

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "[...] , nobody goes after the small fry."

    It seems that quite often the law enforcement agencies do target the "small fry". They count equally well for the purposes of statistics. They are usually easier to "catch" - or at least are cooperative when made aware they have technically broken a law.

    Big criminal operations generate big money. Big money buys accountants and lawyers to make the prosecution's path as rocky as possible.

    It seems risible that the same effort is not being put into the scandal of the cold-calling companies who apparently make big money and then fold like a phoenix to avoid paying fines.

    1. King Jack
      Flame

      make big money and then fold like a phoenix to avoid paying fines.

      Have and upvote for the folding phoenix. Made me laugh.

  12. Stevie

    Bah!

    "Nobody is going after the small guy".

    In what alternate universe? Small guy prosecutions happen all the time over the entire spectrum of the law.

    Quick question: UK prisons; room to spare or overcrowded like everyone else's?

  13. King Jack
    Big Brother

    Handing out undeserved sentences for minor 'crimes' has a defeating effect on being a criminal. I was at an interview many years ago where a woman was debating whether to declare her criminal record. Her crime was watching TV without a licence. The advice given to her was to declare it as nobody gives two fucks about criminal TV watching. The same will happen to those convicted for downloading Game of Thrones. When everyone has a criminal record, it will cease to be a stigma in society.

    So go ahead and cheapen it. Who is going to pay to put people away for 10 years?

  14. Scott Broukell

    The Queen’s Speech

    Yeah! I do love it when a new Roald Dahl film gets released.

  15. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    And didn't they say "only serious sh*t" about things like RIPA ? Passed when it was supposed to be only for "serious" crime and terrorism - since used for that well known terrorist act of (for example) wanting your offspring to go to a decent school.

  16. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    Orlow take yer blinkers off

    Oh that's right you are the one trying to fit us with blinkers...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fluttershy, gore and "shed man". Do I smell a brony.MOV?

    1. Chika
      Trollface

      Fluttershy, gore and "shed man". Do I smell a brony.MOV?

      Only if Hasbro isn't looking. (Or Max Gillardi, of course!)

      Brains, brains, brains!

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