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Alarming rate of consumers resorting to using ISD for viewing pirated content

A quarter of consumers in Malaysia are using a TV box, also known as illicit streaming devices (ISDs), for illegal streaming of TV and video content. Of the 33% of consumers who purchased an ISD, three in five (60%) stated that they have cancelled all or part of their subscription to legal pay-TV services

The recent study of an online content viewing behaviour of Malaysian consumers shows an alarming rate of consumers, as high as 35%, asserting that they are cancelling their subscriptions to a Malaysian-based online video service as a direct consequence of owning an ISD.

The survey, commissioned by the Asia Video Industry Association’s (AVIA) Coalition Against Piracy (CAP), and conducted by research firm YouGov, highlighted the detrimental effects of streaming piracy on legitimate subscription video services.

The study further revealed that international subscription services, which include pan-Asia online offerings, were also affected — nearly one in five (19%) Malaysian users abandoned subscriptions in favour of buying ISDs.

Louis Boswell, CEO of AVIA, commented: “The ISD ecosystem is impacting all businesses involved in the production and distribution of legitimate content.

“ISD piracy is also organised crime, pure and simple, with crime syndicates making substantial illicit revenues from the provision of illegally re-transmitted TV channels and the sale of such ISDs.” 

Cancelling legitimate subscription services and paying less for access to pirated content is also fraught with risks, added Neil Gane, general manager of AVIA’s CAP.

He said: “Piracy websites and ISDs typically have a click-happy user base, and are being used more as clickbait to distribute malware.

“Unfortunately, the appetite for free or cheap subscription pirated content blinkers users from the very real risks of malware infection.

“The type of malware embedded within the piracy ecosystem can include particularly harmful malware such as remote access to trojans, which allows the hacker to activate and record from the device’s webcam without the victim being alerted.”

The surge in popularity of ISDs is not limited to Malaysia. Similar YouGov consumer research has been undertaken in South-east Asian countries where high levels of ISD usage were also found: 15% of Singapore consumers, 20% of Hong Kong consumers, 28% of Filipino consumers, and 34% of Taiwanese consumers use an ISD to stream pirated video content. 

In an attempt to curb sale of such devices, the Singapore government has announced its plans to update the republic’s copyright regime to better support content creators so as to enhance the use and enjoyment of creative works in the digital age.

A critical part of the amendments include new enforcement measures to deter retailers and service providers from profiting by providing unauthorised access to content, such as banning the sale of ISDs.

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