Singapore: Box sellers charged with copyright infringement

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Singapore pay-TV operators Singtel and StarHub have teamed up with Fox Networks Group and the English Premier League to take two Android TV box sellers to court, alleging that they “wilfully infringed” copyright to a significant extent by helping people access pirated content via media streaming boxes, charging them under Section 136 (3A) of the Copyright Act.

In court on January 12, retail firm Synnex Trading and its director Jia Xiaofeng, and trading firm An-Nahl and its director Abdul Nagib Abdul Aziz faced several charges in what has been suggested could be a landmark case to determine the legality of media streaming boxes.

Neil Gane, general manager of the Coalition Against Piracy (CAP), a major initiative to coordinate industry resources in the fight against rampant content theft, appeared in court on behalf of the content providers and pay-TV operators.

Synnex and its director each face four charges for helping customers “make unauthorised copies” of programmes – including English Premier League matches, and other content on Fox’s cable channels – by using the media boxes, as well as the possession of 104 media boxes specifically adapted for making copies of the copyrighted content.

An-Nahl and its director face two charges each of helping a customer use the media box to make unauthorised copies of English Premier League matches and Fox programmes, and carrying 12 media boxes.

Conviction carries a jail term not exceeding six months, a fine of up to SG$20,000 (€12,472) or both.

In a joint statement, Singtel, StarHub, the English 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,” confirming that they would continue to take “concerted and decisive action against content piracy through public education as well as via legal channels to uphold intellectual property rights”.


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