This is going to make me sound like the Daily Mail, but what the heck…
One thing that people may not have considered in all these expensive trials of copyright infringement for which the defendant is usually guilty – is just how much this costs the taxpayer.
Regardless of whether the defendant is jailed in the UK or extradited to the US, the costs of jailing the perpetrator is generally met by the taxpayer who will be paying for their stay either at a British low-security prison or in the US, a federal prison.
Depending on the time served, this can add up to many hundreds of thousands of pounds or dollars over the course of the prison sentence. Rarely will the prisoner have to dip into their own pocket for anything other than toothpaste, underwear, etc. etc. The principal expenses (food, heating, electricity, and everything else required to house the prisoner) are met by the taxpayer.
Therefore unless it is a major infringement that has made them hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars and/or is linked to organised crime, jail time should be used in only very rare occasions. Unless Big Content is willing to pay for the upkeep of the prisoner? No? I thought not.
The remuneration to Big Content should be thus:
1) The current market retail cost of the disputed copyrighted material returned to them for each violation. For example, if the content that’s been pirated costs £9.99 RRP – that’s what the guilty party has to pay. No more. No less.
Any profits (say, advertising revenue or paid-for-access) that’s been directly proven to have been earnt through the proceeds of piracy would obviously be confiscated as “proceeds of crime”, therefore the remuneration costs would have to directly come out of the guilty party’s own funds. That money cannot go directly to Big Content as they would be directly profiting from piracy themselves – especially if they are then taking compensation as outlined above. They can’t have both!
If that’s hundreds of thousands of pounds, so be it. I believe proceeds of crime generally goes to a general victims compensation fund, so that’s fine. But the burden proof would have to be entirely that of Big Content and their solicitors that is how many times the disputed copyright infringement has taken place. That might prove tricky.
2) The court costs. This is going to hit the guilty party in the wallet. It will remain with them a very long time as they make payment arrangements with the courts. This may even last them until the rest of their life – depending on how big the court costs and remuneration fees are and what they were earning at the time of the offense.
3) Publicity. By catching and fining the guilty party, Big Content will be seen to be taking stiff action. The punishment will be reasonable and fair, and the burden on the taxypayer will be minimal. Big Content receives payment for the work that’s been taken without payment, and all will be right with the world once more.
All that being equal, having heard the likes of the RIAA not paying the people responsible for making the content in the first place (i.e. all costs are kept by themselves for future litigation) – that’s not right. Artists, authors and such have the right to be compensated as part of that, and that includes anything obtained through litigation.