UK law: Two years for file swapping?

UK file swappers face up to two years' imprisonment under new copyright regulations under the provisions of a European directive, that are expected to take effect in the UK this month.

The Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 was laid before Parliament on Friday after nearly a year's delay. It is expected to be passed in time to come into force by the end of October, according to legal experts.

The Copyright Directorate, a Patent Office department, had a deadline of 22 December last year to implement the European Copyright Directive of 2001 (known as EUCD), but delayed doing so several times under pressure from groups representing copyright holder interests as well as civil liberties and consumer rights organizations.

The EUCD is intended to aid copyright holders in cracking down on counterfeiting and piracy, but organizations such as UK think tank the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) argue that it is likely to tighten the grip of large companies on consumers, because of the way it is being implemented across the European Union.

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