Criminal offences


For the most part, the criminal law is only used for commercial copyright infringement with one exception, and an offence is committed when, knowing or reasonably suspecting that the files are illegal copies, and without the permission of the copyright owner, a person:

  • makes unauthorised copies e.g. burning music files or films on to CD-Rs or DVD-Rs;
  • distributes, sells or hires out unauthorised copies of CDs, VCDs and DVDs;
  • on a larger scale, distributes unauthorised copies as a commercial enterprise on the internet;
  • possesses unauthorised copies with a view to distributing, selling or hiring these to other people;
  • while not dealing commercially, distributes unauthorised copies of software packages, books, music, games, and films on such a scale as to have a measurable impact on the copyright owner’s business.
  • publishing someone else’s original copy work and claiming you have made it. (This is known as plagiarism and is completely different to copyright infringement, but laws concerning it come under the section of copyright law in some countries)
  • Certain copyrights allow Archival copies of software to be made however these are not to be distributed.

The penalties for these “copyright infringement” offences depend on the seriousness of the offences:

  • before a magistrates’ Court, the penalties for distributing unauthorised files are a maximum fine of £5,000 ($9,202) and/or six months imprisonment;
  • in the Crown Court, the penalties for distributing unauthorised files are an unlimited fine and/or up to 10 years imprisonment.

Also note §24 Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 which creates a range of offences relating to the distribution of any device, product or component which is primarily designed, produced, or adapted for the purpose of enabling or facilitating the circumvention of effective technological measures. When this is for non-commercial purposes, it requires there to be a measurable effect on the rights holder’s business.

Source : wikipedia

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