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Soft touch for unwitting IP breaches

Cliff Saran
A European Parliament vote last week to extend laws on intellectual property rights could prevent users who have inadvertently committed software piracy from being dealt with in the same manner as criminal counterfeiters.

MEPs voted to adopt an amendment to a proposed directive designed to clarify and unify laws across the European Union for copyright holders who fall victim to counterfeiting and piracy. It stated that the measures and remedies provided for in the directive should be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the specific features of each intellectual property right as well as whether the infringement was intentional.

This could have an impact on users who risk being "named and shamed" by software piracy watchdogs such as the Business Software Alliance. Tony Lock, chief analyst at Bloor Research, said the amendment could blur the line in cases of software licence infringement if a user bought the software in good faith.

In some instances, users have bought what they believed was a legitimate software licence, only to be fined and named as a pirate when the licence was found to be counterfeit.

BSA legal counsel Lisa Peets said, "The directive will not have any impact on the rules of copyright, but looks at the remedies." She would not be drawn on whether the BSA would change its policies.

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