Rights Holders Launch Landmark Case Against ‘Pirate’ Android Box Sellers

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Rightsholders will tread new ground today when they attempt a private prosecution of 'pirate' Android box sellers in Singapore. In what many believe is a legal gray area, SingTel, Starhub, Fox Networks Group and Premier League will seek a win in order to suppress further sales in the region.

A court listing discovered by Singapore’s TodayOnline lists Mr Neil Kevin Gane as the complainant in what will prove to be an interesting copyright case.

Mr Gane is the Coalition Against Piracy’s General Manager but CAP is not involved in this case. In this matter he is acting on behalf of SingTel, Starhub, Fox Networks Group and Premier League.

Today will see these rights holders attempt to launch a pioneering private prosecution against set-top box distributor Synnex Trading and its client and wholesale goods retailer, An-Nahl.

It’s reported that the rights holders have also named Synnex Trading director Jia Xiaofen and An-Nahl director Abdul Nagib as defendants in their private criminal case.

Contacted by TodayOnline, an employee of An-Nahl said the company no longer sells the boxes. However, Synnex is reportedly still selling them for S$219 each ($164) plus additional fees for maintenance and access to VOD. The company’s Facebook page is still active with the relevant offer presented prominently.

The importance of the case cannot be understated. While StarHub and other broadcasters have successfully prosecuted cases where people unlawfully decrypted broadcast signals, the provision of unlicensed streams isn’t specifically tackled by Singapore’s legislation. It’s now a major source of piracy in the region, as it is elsewhere around the globe.

Only time will tell how the process will play out but it’s clear that the rights holders are prepared to invest significant sums into a prosecution for a favorable outcome. The rights holders believe that the supply of the boxes falls under Section 136 (3A) of the Copyright Act but only time will tell.

Last December, CAP separately called on the Singapore government to not only block ‘pirate’ streaming software but also unlicensed streams from entering the country.

“Within the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore is the worst in terms of availability of illicit streaming devices,” said CAP General Manager Neil Gane. “They have access to hundreds of illicit broadcasts of channels and video-on-demand content.”

CAP’s 21 members want the authorities to block the software inside devices that enables piracy but it’s far from clear how that can be achieved.

Important note: Based on the TodayOnline report (which has now been corrected), an earlier version of this article contained two errors;

i) That the criminal case proceeded to court after the parties involved could not reach a settlement following the filing of a Magistrate’s Complaint. This is untrue. At no point in time did the parties discuss a settlement.

ii) That Neil Gane acted in his capacity at CAP. That is not the case, CAP is not involved. The parties are SingTel, Starhub, Fox Networks Group and Premier League.


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