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Government going soft on software piracy, says Fast

The Federation Against Software Theft (Fast) claims the government is failing to take online copyright infringement seriously enough.

Fast has called for equity in sentencing for copyright infringement when crimes are committed online.

It has called on the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to deliver on the promises outlined in the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property on criminal sentencing.

The IPO's consultation - Taking Forward the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, Penalties for Copyright Infringement - is currently underway and has failed to take into account Recommendation 36 from Gowers, according to Fast.

The consultation document itself is focusing on changes to criminal sanctions in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

John Lovelock, chief executive of Fast, said, "Recommendation 36 of Gowers clearly states that the penalty for online commercial copyright infringement should be increased to ten years' imprisonment, to bring parity with commercial dealing in pirated works. Nowhere in this consultation document is this referred to."

He said, "In reality, all we have been presented with are three options - make no change, in other words do nothing introduce a statutory maximum fine of £50,000 for all copyright offences or option three, a maximum fine of £50,000 for all IP offences."

The Federation has argued in its response to the consultation that increasing the maximum fine in a Magistrates' Court to £50,000 does not deliver the Government's pledge to implement Recommendation 36 of the Gowers Review.

"The proposals in the consultation leave the custodial sentences for copyright offence unchanged: the maximum sentence in the Crown Court for the commission of online infringement still remains at two years, compared to ten years for commercially dealing in or distributing infringed goods in the physical world," said Lovelock.


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