Soon discrepancies between the criminal penalties for trade mark and copyright infringement look like biting the dust.
New Development: New Development: Proposed new criminal sanctions for copyright infringement
Many fail to realise that copyright infringement can be the subject of a criminal prosecution, in the same way as trade mark infringement. The prosecution can be brought by the copyright owner, who does not have to rely on the CPS, and criminal proceedings normally reach a conclusion much more quickly than civil proceedings. They are also cheaper (not least because they do not involve the process of discovery by which all remotely relevant documents have to be disclosed) , and the service of a summons to appear before the court on a criminal charge will often have a more mind-concentrating effect than a "Claim Form" (the new word for a Writ) which starts civil proceedings.
For some time now there have been inconsistencies between the penalties for trade mark and copyright infringement. Unlimited fines and up to ten years’ imprisonment can be meted out for trade mark infringement compared to a maximum of only two years in prison for copyright infringement. There is also no right, as there is in trade mark cases, to seek an order for forfeiture and destruction of articles that infringe copyright or of plates, unauthorised decoders or other equipment designed to enable copies to be made.
What will change:
Under provisions in the proposed Copyright, etc and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Bill the maximum penalty for copyright infringement by way of sale or other dealings in infringing copies will be ten years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. There will be new police search and seizure powers and there will be a new right to seek forfeiture orders in respect of infringing copies and articles designed for making copies.
Much will depend on when Parliament is prorogued for the next general election, but all the indications are this is more likely than not to become law within the short rather than medium/long term.
What happens next:
The Bill has had its first reading in the Commons and is making its way through the usual legislative process.