For me, this demonstrates how unjust the justice system is, I'd say both in the US and UK, because I'd argue we're guilty of it too.
What kind of sentences do rapists and murderers get? Aaron Swartz was getting 35 years in prison and that's a big sentence, left for some pretty severe criminals.
Copyright Law on the other hand manages to make severe criminals out of lesser crimes. Because, at the end of the day *theft* is a lesser crime, unless of course that theft has greater consequences, for example, if it results in a person's death (and then the crime would be theft AND manslaughter). When it comes to law it seems money plays a value to the crime committed, stealing £5000 from a poor man struggling to feed his family could have more dire consequences than stealing £5million from a billionaire, but which thief would get off the worst? The same applies when it comes to damages in copyright law. For example, a woman running a private WoW server managed to make $3million, now that wasn't stealing $3 million from Blizzard, it was earning money from offering in game services on their private server they were not legally permitted to do. By all means, punish her, it's a crime and she shouldn't have committed it. However, she was fined a certain amount per user of the server, which amounted to around $88 million. That's a debt most normal people couldn't afford to pay in a lifetime. Did it leave Blizzard in a difficult situation? Not in the least, sure they lost some potential subscribers, but it was barely a scratch on their financial success as a business.
If the lady was running a highly successful business, it would have been easier to deal with the loss and successful companies will break patents if they can afford to do so, for example, the mobile phone markets, companies are constantly suing each other over broken patents (mainly Apple) and their business is successful enough to deal with it so though they were paying royalties instead of breaking law. So arguably, the law in this respect is not proportionate. Blizzard can fuck over somebody who runs a private server whilst companies like Samsung happily remain in business and thrive in it because they're rich enough for Apple to not destroy them. What bothers me more is that people complain more about Apple suing other companies than other companies suing people who can't afford it. Sure there's still outrage, but when was the last time you heard somebody accuse Blizzard of being greedy? Or making fun of the fact they sued somebody? Or accuse them of being unethical as a business? I hear people say things like that about Apple all the time.
I like to tell the story of a local drunk driver, he ran down an 18 year old girl on Christmas eve one year, he got 5 years, served 3 of them. He was allowed his freedom, and yet a girl lost her life, parents lost a daughter and others a friend. It is anecdotal, but people do get shorter sentences for such crimes. Then I read about 'victims' of piracy and copyright and try to imagine how those victims are worse off than that girl and family.
To me it suggests that in the eyes of the law money is more valuable than life.