Fast (the Federation Against Software Theft) today welcomed the draft EU Intellectual Property Enforcement Directive, which places fixed penalties on those found guilty of software piracy, while Ifpi (the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) branded it "inadequate".

The Directive is an attempt to create a national set of laws to deal with the growing problem of software counterfeiting due to variation in current national laws.

"Until now, some software publishers have stood there imploring the flood of legal copying to stop. Now they have an opportunity to put their pleas into action — the proposed new rules put together an array of weapons against not only the career pirates but also commercial companies who currently get away with substantial under-licensing," said Robin Fry, spokesman for Flag (the Fast Legal Advisory Group).

But the Ifpi believes the Commission's proposal is "inadequate in the view of the magnitude of the piracy problem and fails to introduce urgently needed measures to holdback the epidemic of counterfeiting".

Neither, according to the group, does the Directive iron out the inconsistencies and weaknesses in local laws, something it was designed to do.

"The implementation of the Directive in its current form would cause confusion and perpetuate a patchwork of different legal measures and procedures across the EU," said the Ifpi's press statement. "The draft Directive does not do enough to encourage accession countries to enforce intellectual property right rigorously."

According to the Ifpi the leisure, video and music software industries are losing a whopping €4.5bn (£2.9bn) a year as a result of piracy.