In a landmark court case brought by the Premier League, Singtel, StarHub and Fox Networks Group, a Singapore retail outlet Synnex Trading and its Director Mr. Jia Xiaofeng were found guilty of four criminal charges of copyright infringement and ordered to pay a SG$160,800 fine. Mr. Jia Xiaofeng was also sentenced to a three months jail term and a SG$ 5,400 fine. Synnex Trading operated a retail outlet in Geylang Road which sold illicit streaming devices (ISDs) preloaded with applications which provided access to thousands of unauthorised TV channels and video-on-demand content including live sports.
Today’s conviction was the second successful prosecution in Singapore against retailers of illicit streaming devices (ISDs). In April this year the company director of “An-Nahl” pled guilty a similar copyright offence resulting in the court handing down a fine.
Neil Gane, the General Manager of AVIA’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) commented: “Today’s sentencing provides both a deterrence and clarity to ISD retailers in Sim Lim Square and elsewhere, that selling illicit streaming devices is illegal”.
Gane added: “ISD retailers mislead consumers when they claim that the content accessible through such TV boxes is legal and that requisite subscription charges goes to rights-holders. As such, consumers are wasting their money when purchasing an ISD and an alleged ‘annual subscription’ especially when they find their ISD can no longer access live sports matches or their favourite TV shows. ISDs can never provide quality programming and a service guarantee, contrary to what consumers may be told by unscrupulous retailers.”
Earlier this year the Singapore government announced that it will be amending the Copyright Act to update its copyright regime in an effort to support creators and users of video content. A critical part of the suite of amendments includes new enforcement measures to further deter retailers from profiting from providing access to content through unauthorised sources such as ISDs that enable access to pirated TV channels and video-on-demand content.
A YouGov consumer survey commissioned by AVIA’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) earlier this year, revealed that 20% of Singaporean consumers use a TV box which can be used to stream pirated television and video content. Of the consumers who purchased an ISD, more than a quarter (28%) asserted that they cancelled their subscriptions to a Singaporean-based online video service.