New Singapore Law to Ban Piracy-Configured Set Top Boxes

By Bill Toulas / January 18, 2019

Pre-configured TV boxes that use Kodi addons to illegally stream copyrighted content or come with activated subscriptions to pirating IPTV services will now be banned in Singapore. The country has been somewhat condescending with piracy in recent years, maintaining an unclear, inadequate, and mostly inapplicable law context. This is about to change, as the Singapore Ministry of Law has published a “Copyright Review Report”, introducing the required policy changes that will deliver a decisive blow to the rise of ISDs (illicit streaming devices).

The report that was processed during the last three years, details the legal insufficiency of the existing context to address the ISDs that don’t contain any content in the way that traditional media such as DVDs do. However, these ISDs can be pre-configured to aid the illicit access and playback of audio-visual content from unauthorized sources. This process is done with the purpose of commercial gains from those who sell the ISDs, as well as the IPTV service providers, so the new legal context aims against all links in the chain, from the manufacturers of the devices, their importers, distributors, and the retailers.

As set-top boxes cannot be banned altogether, the goal of the new law is to raise the awareness of the aforementioned market roles, helping them understand how these products work and how to distinguish between the piracy-enabled and legal media boxes. If however, the seller of a legal box provides instructions to the customer on how to configure the box for piracy as after-sales service, this action will incur liability to the former. The legislative provisions cover all software and hardware tainting scenarios, and even any advertising efforts to promote the ability to access copyrighted content with the boxes.

singapore report

From the Copyright Review Report

This move is the result of intense pressure from copyright holders, as the fight against piracy is underway all around the globe. Neil Gane of the Asia Video Industry Association’s Coalition Against Piracy has underlined the importance of banning ISDs, as these boxes are currently a huge problem for copyright owners. As he told TorrentFreak: “We are glad the government has recognized that this lack of legal clarity had allowed ISD retailers to mislead consumers that the content accessible through such TV boxes was legal and that requisite subscription charges went to rights-holders – which they did not. As such, we welcome the proposals to modify Singapore’s Copyright Act to better deal with this form of infringement. We are encouraged by the language in the Copyright Review Report which implies a concerted effort to clarify and ‘future proof’ the current copyright legislation.”

Do you reckon that ISD owners and sellers will find alternative ways to maintain the consumption of copyright content illegally? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and subscribe to our socials, on Twitter and Facebook.

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