In a recent case an online software pirate settled claims against him on unusual out of court terms with a number of jointly represented leading software companies, including Microsoft and Sony Music, whose software he had pirated and made available for free online.
Thirty-year-old Czech National 'Jakub F' was given a three-year suspended sentence for online software piracy and ordered to pay damages to the parties whose copyright he had infringed. In relation to the damages, however, the software giants offered Jakub a chance to end the dispute by paying only a small portion of damages if he achieved over 200,000 views on a video featuring himself denouncing online piracy. The video received over 200,000 views and Jakub will no longer face a claim for damages.
Whilst Microsoft alone estimated their loss at around £150,000, it was acknowledged that Jakub could not afford to pay that amount. The settlement therefore appears to be a result of an assessment of how the Business Software Alliance (a trade organisation that works to advance the goals of the software industry and which was the representative of the companies infringed in this case) could gain the most from Jakub's infringement. The condition regarding minimum views ensured Jakub would share the video as widely as he could and that would likely include with people he knew in the online piracy community – in turn awakening them to potential consequences of online piracy and copyright infringement.
Online Copyright Infringement
Counterfeit goods and piracy pose a huge threat to the effectiveness and efficiency of intellectual property (IP) rights, undermining the incentive for owners of IP to exploit the rights they own. As the influence and importance of the digital world has increased, so too has the threat of online piracy. As the IP Minister stated, "with advances in technology and the popularity of the internet, more and more criminals are turning to online criminality and so it is imperative that our prosecution system reflects our moves to a more digital world".
The UK Government are currently reviewing feedback on a consultation of proposed changes to penalties for online copyright infringement – a key aspect of which is "increasing the maximum custodial sentence for online copyright infringement from two to ten years".in: Case Law, Copyright, Digital/Tech, News