Under new Government proposals, individuals who seek to download and share pirated content on the internet may face up to ten years imprisonment.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (“UK IPO”) is seeking to crack down on copyright pirates and impose similar sanctions to those who deal with counterfeit goods.

The Government’s Digital Economy Bill, which was introduced during this year as part of The Queen’s Speech, proposes a maximum ten year prison sentence for copyright infringement as opposed to the current maximum penalty of two years.

A statement within the Government’s consultation on Criminal Sanctions for Online Copyright Infringement (“Consultation”) claimed: “a maximum sentence of ten years allows the Courts to apply an appropriate sentence to reflect the scale of the offending.”

Furthermore, the Consultation dismissed reports that a maximum custodial sentence would directly target casual downloaders who commit “a very minor infringement”. The Consultation outlined that for higher penalties to be applicable, an infringement would need to be “proven to the criminal standard, beyond reasonable doubt,” and that ultimately the “the level of penalty should [always] meet the scale of the crime”.