I've recently read an article about a proposed bill that would criminalise attempted copyright infringement in the US. link - https://www.wired.com/2007/05/ippa07/

I was wondering if the UK had any legislation on this. Any help is much appreciated. Cheers!

  • Certain types of attempted copyright infringement were already criminal acts in US law as of 2005 (e.g., 18 USC s. 2319B -- piracy of motion pictures copied in a movie theater). The later copyright proposal you referenced got watered down prior to enactment in 2008.
    – Upnorth
    Jul 10, 2023 at 15:49

2 Answers 2



Short Answer:

As long as it's a "criminal infringement" and not for, say, personal copies for private use, and the "criminal attempt" is more than merely preparatory

Long Answer:

Part 1, Chapter 2 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 covers the rights of a copyright owner and, at section 16(2), states that:

Copyright in a work is infringed by a person who without the licence of the copyright owner does, or authorises another to do, any of the acts restricted by the copyright.

There are numerous criminal offences within the Act covering various business, for-profit or for-gain infringement scenarios, such as section 107:

(1) A person commits an offence who, without the licence of the copyright owner—

  • (a) makes for sale or hire, or

  • (b) imports into the United Kingdom otherwise than for his private and domestic use, or

  • (c) possesses in the course of a business with a view to committing any act infringing the copyright, or

  • (d) in the course of a business —

(i)sells or lets for hire, or

(ii)offers or exposes for sale or hire, or

(iii)exhibits in public, or

(iv)distributes, or

  • (e) distributes otherwise than in the course of a business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright,

an article which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe is, an infringing copy of a copyright work.


(4) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1)(a), (b), (d)(iv) or (e) is liable—

  • (a) on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine, or both;

  • (b) on conviction on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or both.

The above emboldened provisions establish that certain types of copyright infringement are indictable offences, which brings in to play section 1 Criminal Attempts Act 1981:

1 Attempting to commit an offence.

(1) If, with intent to commit an offence to which this section applies, a person does an act which is more than merely preparatory to the commission of the offence, he is guilty of attempting to commit the offence.


(4) This section applies to any offence which, if it were completed, would be triable in England and Wales as an indictable offence, other than—

[list of excluded offences omitting as not relevant to the question]



s7 of the Crimes Act 1914:

Any person who attempts to commit any offence against this Act or any other Act, whether passed before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be punishable as if the attempted offence had been committed.

This covers offenses under the Copyright Act.

  • Interestingly, the 1914 Act makes no distinction between attempting summary or indictable offences - unlike E&W where there are only few, limited occasions outside of the 1981 Act when a summary offence may be attempted. I may post a question about this later +1.
    – user35069
    Aug 10, 2023 at 8:51

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