UK software pirates could get 10 years

Summary:A new, strict copyright and trademark bill would put a heavy price on company directors who are caught using pilfered software.

The UK government's decision to push ahead with the the copyright and trademarks bill could mean tough penalties for company directors IT staff are likely to be kept busy ensuring compliance with new UK and European laws on software piracy and equipment disposal during Tony Blair's second term.

The government is set to push ahead with Labour MP Andrew Miller's copyright and trademarks bill, which will probably be referred to in the Queen's speech on Wednesday. The bill was timed out in May but is likely to be quickly reintroduced. It would align copyright and trademark law, and introduce penalties of up to ten years' imprisonment for company directors who allow pirated software in their organizations, or whose firms contravene licensing terms.

The proposals could also be extended to cover other concerns. "A new bill could incorporate more complicated issues such as software piracy via the Net," said Miller.

Further in the future is the EU's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. By 2004, it could force firms to dispose of certain equipment through official agents.

Meanwhile, recent ministerial reshuffles show few signs of speeding up developments in key IT areas, such as the provision of broadband services and e-government.

Douglas Alexander takes over from Patricia Hewitt as e-commerce minister. Responsibility for data protection and freedom of information shift from the Home Office to the smaller Lord Chancellor's Department.

Critics are demanding that the government acts faster to promote e-business. "I get the sense that momentum has been lost," said Jeremy Ward of security vendor Symantec, who previously worked in the office of the government's e-envoy. "[UK policy] has accreted a bloated anchor of bureaucracy." The UK government's decision to push ahead with the the copyright and trademarks bill could mean tough penalties for company directors IT staff are likely to be kept busy ensuring compliance with new UK and European laws on software piracy and equipment disposal during Tony Blair's second term.

The government is set to push ahead with Labour MP Andrew Miller's copyright and trademarks bill, which will probably be referred to in the Queen's speech on Wednesday. The bill was timed out in May but is likely to be quickly reintroduced. It would align copyright and trademark law, and introduce penalties of up to ten years' imprisonment for company directors who allow pirated software in their organizations, or whose firms contravene licensing terms.

The proposals could also be extended to cover other concerns. "A new bill could incorporate more complicated issues such as software piracy via the Net," said Miller.

Further in the future is the EU's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. By 2004, it could force firms to dispose of certain equipment through official agents.

Meanwhile, recent ministerial reshuffles show few signs of speeding up developments in key IT areas, such as the provision of broadband services and e-government.

Douglas Alexander takes over from Patricia Hewitt as e-commerce minister. Responsibility for data protection and freedom of information shift from the Home Office to the smaller Lord Chancellor's Department.

Critics are demanding that the government acts faster to promote e-business. "I get the sense that momentum has been lost," said Jeremy Ward of security vendor Symantec, who previously worked in the office of the government's e-envoy. "[UK policy] has accreted a bloated anchor of bureaucracy."

Topics: Government, Broadband, E-Commerce, EU, Legal, Piracy, Security, SMBs, Software, Symantec

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