The Government's Digital Economy Bill could potentially hand copyright trolls the means to threaten online users with prison sentences of up to 10 years for file-sharing.
The Open Rights Group (ORG) is a digital campaigning organisation that aims to protect the rights to privacy and free speech online. They want to change the Digital Economy Bill so that it is more specific.
Their campaign focuses on two areas.
Firstly that an increased sentence may result in an increase of so called ‘copyright trolls’ threatening court action and secondly, that the copyright clause within the Bill criminalises minor copyright infringement.
The Government wants to use the Bill to increase penalties for criminals running websites that allow people to download copyright-protected material.
But the proposed legislation will criminalise any infringement where money has NOT been paid for copyrighted content - that could include people who share accommodation, or send copyrighted material to each other.
According to the ORG, the Government has been warned twice that its ambiguous phrasing could help copyright trolls.
Copyright trolls are often legal firms that send out legal warning letters to people suspected of unauthorised downloading of copyrighted material.
These firms often send out the warnings to people who have NEVER downloaded legally infringing content.
The trolls threaten court action unless the individual pays a sum of money.
If the Digital Economy Bill passes unchanged, the ORG claims, these trolls will be able to send out warning letters threatening users with 10 years imprisonment.
It's no secret that a lot of people are viewing legally infringing content on Kodi.
Firstly, Kodi is not illegal.
It carries no content, but it is an open-source media player that's available to install on a range of devices, which is why Kodi can be found in most living rooms around the world.
The software is also very easy to install, use and customise.
The ability to use third-party add-ons allows users access to potentially legally infringing content which is shared or streamed from other users across the globe.
But the problem with Kodi is that a lot of the content is illegally taken from digital subscription providers such as Sky, Netflix, BT Sport and Virgin Media.
Those who use the Kodi platform to access paid-for content for free would be taking a serious risk.
Ten year sentences would only be applied in the most serious of criminal circumstances.
It is highly unlikely that small, unintentional infringements would be caught by this offence.
It would not be practical for the government to set a specific level of loss or gain at which infringement becomes a criminal offence.
This is because the circumstances of each infringement needs to be taken into account.
A second day of report stage for the Digital Economy Bill is scheduled for March 20 in the House of Lords.