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Singapore cracks down on ISD retailers

The rise of OTT has resulted in a renewed flood of illicit streaming devices. A YouGov consumer survey commissioned by Asia Video Industry Association’s (AVIA) Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) earlier this year, revealed that 20% of Singaporean consumers use a TV box which can be used to stream pirated TV and video content, resulting in a fall of SVoDs.

Singapore recently convicted another retailer of illicit streaming devices (ISDs). In a landmark court case brought by Singtel, StarHub, Fox Networks Group and the English Premier League, a Singapore retail outlet Synnex Trading and its director Jia Xiaofeng were found guilty of four criminal charges of copyright infringement and ordered to pay a S$160,800 (US$118,000)fine.

Synnex Trading operated a retail outlet that sold ISDs preloaded with applications that can provide access to thousands of unauthorised TV channels and VoD content, including live sports.

Neil Gane, general manager of Coalition Against Piracy (CAP), AVIA, commented: “Today’s sentencing provides both a deterrence and clarity to ISD retailers in Sim Lim Square, and elsewhere, that sell 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 the 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.”

In April this year, the company director of An-Nahl, pleaded guilty of a similar copyright offence resulting in the court handing down a fine.

Singapore is also stepping up efforts against content piracy, and is supporting content creators with the amendment to its Copyright Act which includes the prosecution of retailers profiting by providing access to TV channels and VoD content through unauthorised sources such as ISDs.

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