UK regulators today warned that iTrip users risk legal action, as such devices are illegal here.

Devices like the iTrip are low-powered FM transmitters that many iPod users employ as a solution to get their music into their car or home audio systems. However, UK regulator Ofcom warns that the action of tuning an iTrip into a radio channel here is illegal under laws to stop pirate radio stations.

Manufactured by Griffin Technology, the product slots neatly into the iPod, and transmits music on a user's choice of FM frequency.

Griffin's UK distributor AM Micro last year hired a legal team to assess the legality of the product, and found that the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 forbids the installation or use of such radio equipment in the UK unless a license has been granted by the Secretary of State, or a licensing exemption applies. Attempts to win an exemption for the iTrip failed.

Two year's in gaol

"Use of the iTrip in the UK constitutes an offence and can lead to prosecution of the user, dealer and seizure of all iTrips in the UK," AM Micro managing director Steve Hawkins told Macworld.

This morning's Daily Telegraph repeats the warning. An Ofcom spokesman said: "If you've tuned it into your neighbours' Radio 4 and they ring up and complain, we could well turn up at your door and say 'please stop doing that'". The maximum penalty is a large fine and up to two years in jail.

iTrips are available from some sources in the UK, but some dealers told Macworld they have recently received cease and desist orders from Ofcom.