The Intellectual Property High Court in Kuala Lumpur has declared that the sale, offer for sale, distribution and/or supply of TV Boxes or illicit streaming devices (“ISDs”) that can provide unauthorised access to copyrighted works, constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act 1987.
The decision announced yesterday was brought by Measat Broadcast Networks Sdn. Bhd., the service provider for Astro, against a seller of ISDs preloaded with applications which act as gateways to websites or content servers streaming pirated content.
The historic judgment, considered to be the first by the Intellectual Property High Court, has been positively received by the authorities and industry players as a step forward in their battle against digital piracy. Industry leaders including Astro lauded the High Court’s judgement as a bold step in the right direction against piracy in Malaysia.
“The declaration by the High Court that sale of ISD which allows access to unauthorised copyright content amounts to copyright infringement sets a precedent for future civil claims on copyright infringement against ISD sellers in the market, including those on e-commerce platforms,” said Director, Regulatory of Astro, Laila Saat. “This ground-breaking declaration will strengthen intellectual property protection in the country and ongoing anti-piracy efforts, which are pivotal to ensure continuous investment and job creation in Malaysia’s media and entertainment industry.”
The estimated loss to the industry and Malaysian economy due to piracy is over RM3 billion annually with RM500 million in taxes and thousands of jobs at risk.
“Acknowledging that more proactive action is needed to fight digital piracy in the country, FINAS expresses full support for legal action taken by Astro against ISD sellers and all digital piracy activities as these illegal activities has caused the local creative industry a huge loss in revenue every year,” said CEO of the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS), Dr. Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri. “In driving more holistic and effective strategy battling digital piracy, FINAS has established the Digital Piracy Eradication Committee with the collective support and involvement of relevant law enforcement agencies to further empower and strengthen enforcement, regulations and the terms of distribution licences in line with the provisions under the FINAS Act 244 1981”.
Yesterday’s declaration by the High Court follows recent criminal cases successfully brought against ISD retailers. On 8 February, a company director of an IT company was charged at the Shah Alam Sessions Court under Section 41 (1) (ha) of the Copyright Act 1987 with promoting Long TV Android boxes which allow the bypassing of technological protection measures on copyright broadcast work.
On 16 February, a woman director of a mobile accessory company pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing TV media boxes that contains software to illegally stream Astro’s content via the internet. She was fined RM30,000 under Section 232(2) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, making her the first ISD seller to be charged under this provision.
The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) reiterated that it will take stern action against suppliers and sellers who misuse devices and software to illegally access content protected by their copyright work owners. The public is reminded to channel information of piracy activities to the Ministry through the hotline 1-800-886-800 or 03-8882 6088 at the Enforcement Command Centre or WhatsApp at 019-279 4317.
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