The government has launched a consultation on plans to increase the maximum fine for traders in copyright-infringing material from £5,000 to £50,000 as part of a plan to protect "creative Britain".
The change would bring the financial punishment for online copyright infringement for commercial purposes in line with the penalty for physical infringement.
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is proposing the massive increase as part of its response to the Treasury's wide-ranging Gowers Review of intellectual property, which reported in 2006. Submissions to the review from music, film, software and other rights holders urged for an increase of deterrents against large scale commercial infringement.
Former Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers subsequently wrote: "Crimes committed in the online and physical world should not be subject to different sentences. Increasing the penalties for online infringement will therefore make the law more coherent."
Alongside tougher financial penalties, Gowers recommended a maximum ten year prison sentence in the most serious cases of commercial gain from copyright infringement.
The IPO's consultation paper is here (pdf). The consultation closes at the end of October. ®