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Gowers: crack down on pirates

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Gordon Brown delivered his last pre-budget report this afternoon, and launched the findings of the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property.

Former Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers recommended to the Treasury that penalties for illegal downloading should match those for physical piracy. [That's flogging dodgy disks at car boot sales, not highjacking on the high seas.]

Trading Standards officers should be given new powers to act on digital copyright infringement, he reported. They currently only enforce the law in relation to physical copying.

As expected, Gowers reckons the rules outlawing ripping CDs should be updated. By 2008 loading music onto your iTunes shouldn't be against the law.

A series of recommendations surround the flexibilty of intellectual property law include several on fair use; Gowers pushes for an exception to copyright for the purposes of "caricature, parody or pastiche" for example. "Transformative and derivative works", which use copyrighted material as their basis, should be allowed here as they are in the US, he argues.

The report's recommendations are just that, however. Which ones become government policy remains to be seen. ®

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