Re: So is anyone going to be held to account?
Why? On the basis of a misrepresentative article by a biased journalist?
We just had an article on this which was equally misleading. Now we get another which describes analysing and reaching a conclusion as "made up" and "pulled from its arse". By this author's criteria you can include pretty much every decision as "made up".
As this article is pretty much the same re-tread as the last, I feel entitled to re-tread my response from last time. So here's my view on it minus hyperbole about making things up and implications that domestic file sharers are going to be sentenced to ten years in jail. Note the use of things such as reference to actual past sentences in the UK, etc. So...
Presumably everyone outraged by this also thinks that when an ISP promises "up to 100Mbps" that's what they'll get. Or that because you can get up to two years for dangerous driving, you'll get two years for accidentally going through a red light.
This is about harmonizing offline and online penalties so that someone producing knock-off DVDs gets treated the same as someone transferring ISOs online. It's not about upping the penalties.
Let's look at actual prosecutions resulting in multi-year sentences in the UK. To recall two, we had a guy who traded in $20million of pirated software and made a very handsome profit on that. He got seven years, iirc. The other multi-year sentence I can recall was someone running a piracy site and he was channelling about £50,000 advertising revenue per month through Latvian banks to South American-registered companies. I don't recall how long that person got, but it was less than ten years.
If you're someone at home distributing some movies via BitTorrent, you're not going to get a decade inside, you're going to get a fine, in all but the most exceptional cases.
Discretion in sentencing is a thing and exists for a very good reason. Meanwhile El Reg. and Ars Technica go into a feeding frenzy of click-bait profits whilst freetards go into moral outrage and complain about comparisons to manslaughter. Well home torrenters aren't going to be sentenced the same way as people committing manslaughter and if you throw out all historical evidence from this country to the contrary, and refuse to acknowledge that maximum sentences are not the be all and end all of how you assess a law, then you're wilfully trying to be outraged because you enjoy it. As the author of this article does. Got to get those clicks!
So why should we harmonise penalties between online and offline behaviour? The silly argument I've seen arguing against this is that if you steal a warehouse full of DVDs, you're depriving someone of something but if you copy the data you're not. This is silly.
Both are methods of depriving the content producer of payment for their product. Unless for some incalculable reason you think the primary cost of producing a movie or album is the plastic that goes into the DVD, then it really makes no difference how you take it without paying for it. This is a fact.
The other is the perennial "I wouldn't have bought it anyway". This too is flawed.
This is you deciding unilaterally the worth of someone's work and depriving them of a say in it. You declare it's not worth £10 but is worth £0, so it's therefore okay for you to take it for £0. Trade depends on both parties being able to negotiate on a price. If the seller prices it too highly, you choose not to buy. If you find it worth the price they demand, you do choose to. Taking it at a price that the seller does not agree to is theft, even if (especially if) that price is £0. The customer always wants everything cheaper, that's why they don't get to set the prices of it unilaterally.
Also, utterly absurd to argue from a position that piracy doesn't cost sales. Whilst the comments sections of IT news sites seem to be filled with people who pirate nothing that they would ever buy, the real world contains people I know who absolutely use piracy as an alternative to buying, renting or cinema.
And before I get the utterly predictable retort that this doesn't mean that every pirated good is a lost sale, let me point out I haven't made such an argument.
Some people take what they read by this author at face value. Either through trust or because they like being outraged. The article is misleading people. They don't want to imprison domestic file sharers for ten years as supported by our own UK history on this. What they want is to slap a fine on you and say "don't do it again." Unless you happen to be engaging in large-scale software piracy for profit which is more what this is about despite the frothing rant that has just attempted to pass itself off as journalism without so much as pretending to consider the opposing view.
As this is the second such rabble-rousing, context ignoring article, I can only presume that the author loves their status as official angry mob spokesperson more than they prefer actually taking an objective view on the context of this law.