Draft legislation aimed at establishing Europe-wide criminal penalties for counterfeiting and intellectual piracy are scheduled to be agreed on tomorrow (March 20) by Euro-MPs.

The European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee is expected to approve plans to amend copyright legislation in an attempt to tackle rampant piracy in some EU markets. The proposal would raise the financial penalties and custodial sentences for most copyright infringements and apply a standard across Europe, rather than the varied levels in each market as at present.

The plans would oblige all 27 EU countries to consider jail terms for the violation of intellectual property rights. With pirated goods surging within the EU steadily on the rise, the European Commission has warned that it’s an international business increasingly linked to organized crime.

The Commission -- the EU's executive body -- originally proposed a directive setting harmonised criminal penalties across the EU: A maximum of four years in prison, and fines of up to 91,053 euros. That would rise to 273,160 euros if organized crime were involved.

Italian socialist MEP Nicola Zingaretti, who is drafting the Parliament's bill, backs the Commission's tough measures, arguing that national law alone cannot fight international crime.

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