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Wednesday, April 26, 2006
New European Sanctions For Piracy

The European Commission will be recommending sanctions today against counterfeiting and piracy of goods, including at least four years in prison and a €300,000 ($372,700) fine.

The seizure of counterfeited material at the borders of the European Union increased by 1,000 percent between 1998 and 2004, with 103 million pirated items seized in 2004, according the EU.

Different penalties in the 25 EU countries make it difficult to fight counterfeiting effectively, says the EU executive in the draft legislation, obtained by Reuters.

The draft legislation deals only with sanctions for infringements of intellectual property rights on a commercial scale, and not downloading of music via the internet for private use.

The EU executive recommends that offences should be punishable by a 4 year imprisonment and a fine of minimum €100,000 to €300,000. The fine should increase when there is a health or safety risk.

Other possible measures are the confiscation or destruction of the objects, and a permanent or temporary ban on offenders from engaging in commercial activities.

The draft legislation is a revised version of a text put on the table last year by the EU executive, with a stricter legal base. According to this bill, EU countries could be sued if they fail to implement the common sanctions, an EU official said.

The EU and the U.S.are putting pressure on China, considered as one of the main sources of counterfeiting. U.S. industry groups estimate 90 percent of DVDs, music CDs and software sold in China are pirated.

The draft legislation is to be adopted jointly by EU governments and the European Parliament.

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