Piracy coalition instigates criminal prosecution over set-top boxes


Piracy coalition instigates criminal prosecution over set-top boxes

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Criminal charges have been brought in a case relating to the streaming of copyrighted programmes on entertainment boxes.

The case has been brought under private prosecution by Neil Gane, general manager of the Coalition Against Piracy (CAP), on behalf of Singtel, StarHub, Fox Network and the English Premier League. Charges were brought at the State Court in Singapore on Friday, January 12.

CAP represents major content companies in enforcing against piracy in Asia.

Gane accused TV entertainment box distributor Synnex Trading and its retailer An-Nahl, as well as the directors of the two companies, of selling media boxes which provide users with unfettered access to copyrighted programmes.

The boxes come with apps which allow users to stream copyrighted content without having to pay for it. However, the media devices themselves are not illegal. Gane is arguing that the media boxes, which are specifically adapted for making copies of copyrighted content, are in fact illegal devices.

The content that the accusation relates to includes Premier League matches, Fox Family movies and the National Geographic Channel.

Synnex and its director each face multiple counts of wilfully infringing copyright for profit, and one count of possessing more than 100 illegal devices which produce copies of copyrighted content.

An-Nahl and its director each face counts of wilfully infringing copyright for profit and possessing more than ten illegal streaming devices.

The accused could face a prison sentence of up to six months and/or a maximum fine of S$20,000 (US$15,132.00). The directors are due back in court separately, on January 26 and February 2.

In a joint statement, reported by local media, Singtel, StarHub, the Premier League and Fox said: “The alarming proliferation of piracy and illicit streaming devices that are used to view copyright protected content hurts both consumers and producers ... We will continue to take concerted and decisive action against content piracy through public education as well as via legal channels to uphold intellectual property rights.”

Legation in Singapore doesn’t explicitly tackle the provision of unlicensed steaming, but CAP’s claim that the supply of boxes such as these falls under the remit of the Copyright Act.

CAP is backed by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia, the association for digital multichannel TV and content platforms throughout Asia.

Singapore was identified a prime target area for the coalition, particularly as research indicated that 14% of Singaporeans admitted to accessing pirated content via illicit streaming devices, according to TBO.

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Copyright infringement, illicit streaming, CASBAA, Singapore piracy, Coalition Against Piracy, Synnex Trading

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