We have all heard horror stories about people being caught sharing or downloading music having been fined incredible amounts, but these horror stories might just become reality thanks to a fresh move by the UK government.

The UK government has decided to raise the penalty for sharing music illegally. Currently under the country’s Copyright and Patents Act 1988, you can now be penalised a maximum of two years for illegally sharing music. The government intends to change this so that the maximum sentence can now become 10 years.

According to a report in September 2013 from media watchdog Ofcom, a fifth of content consumed by the UK audience is pirated content. It was reported that 22% of the music  and 35% of films consumed online is pirated.

It is clear that the government is taking copyright infringement quite seriously and Intellectual Property Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, said: “The government takes copyright crime extremely seriously—it hurts businesses, consumers and the wider economy both on and offline.

“Our creative industries are worth more than £7 billion to the UK economy and it’s important to protect them from online criminal enterprises.”

The government introduced a law in October 2014, which made it legal to transfer music into your home library either on an MP3 or other devices. The high court has now overturned this law. This also could mean that technically you are unable to copy a CD you own and make versions for the car and another for at home. You will be able to make back-ups for personal use, but it has always been illegal to make them for friends and family or sell them on.

It has been suggested that increasing the penalties for copyright offences will deter people from downloading or sharing music illegally. The impact of this move will be felt by both businesses and consumers, especially since the country’s creative industries, including film, television and music, are worth 7.1 billion per year to the UK economy and support more than 1.6 million jobs.

“Online or offline, intellectual property theft is a crime,” said Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe, Head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).

 – Amy Curtis, Correspondent (Music)

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