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FIPR warns of danger of criminalising IP breaches

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The British government is trying to use its presidency of the EU to push through a European directive would give police more powers to act against copyright infringers than they currently have to deal with suspected terrorists, according to the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR).

The FIPR also warns that the directive, a follow up to the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement directive, would force the UK to criminalise patent infringement, and incitement to infringe copyrights or patents.

If patent infringement becomes a crime, the FIPR argues, the risks involved in launching a technology start-up will be even greater than they are today. It warns that promising businesses will choose to set up in the US instead, where patent infringement will remain a civil matter.

Ross Anderson, chair of FIPR and professor of security engineering at Cambridge University said that despite government promises to "foster the creative industries", this directive will have exactly the opposite effect.

"It will interfere with enterprise and choke off competition. It will push up prices for consumers at a time of rising global inflation, and do particular harm to the software and communications industries," he says. "It will also harm universities, libraries and the disabled."

You can read the full text of the proposed directive here (pdf). ®

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