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A civil liberties group has slammed the government's Digital Economy Bill for threatening too harsh penalties for illegal video streaming.

The Open Rights Group set out in a blog post how the bill's ambiguous phrasing could help so-called 'copyright trolls' (legal firms that threaten often innocent people they suspect of copyright infringement).

The bill increases the maximum prison sentence for copyright infringement to 10 years.

"The offence [copyright infringement] criminalises infringements where money hasn't been paid or there is a 'risk of loss' – which means nearly anything published online without permission could attract a jail sentence," the post reads. "It could be file sharing, or reusing a Disney character in a gif.

"If copyright trolls can tell people they could go to prison for 10 years, it will frighten more people into payment whether they've done anything wrong or not."

The government claims it wants to increase penalties only for major offences, like running websites that illegally host copyrighted material for downloading or streaming, or providing access to such content through a Kodi box.

The government will propose amendments to the Digital Economy Bill in the next few days. If you want to support the Open Rights Group, you can email the minister responsible through its website.

Source: Open Rights Group

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