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Singapore government updates copyright laws to crack down on illicit streaming devices

TV boxes that allow access to content from unauthorised services also known as Illicit streaming devices, are among the focus areas of a suite of amendments to the Copyright Act announced by the Singapore government.

Last November, a survey from the Asia Video Industry Association, a trade body for the video industry and ecosystem in the Asia-Pacific region revealed that 15% of consumers in Singapore use these devices.

Over 28% of these consumers had cancelled their subscription to a legitimate source of video content, as a result.

The new legislations will deter retailers from selling these boxes which are currently easily available across the city at malls and exhibitions. These measures will complement existing mechanisms put in place for blocking of illegal content.

Speaking about the development, AVIA’s CEO Louis Boswell said: “AVIA welcomes the government’s proposals to update Singapore’s Copyright Act to be relevant to the technological developments of today.

“The application and ISD ecosystem is seriously impacting all businesses involved in the production and distribution of legitimate content and generates huge revenue for criminal syndicates and retailers who profit from selling access to stolen intellectual property.”

The general manager of AVIA’s Coalition Against Piracy added: “Illicit streaming devices and their associated applications are by far the most important copyright infringement issue in Singapore. “Liability for ISD retailers under the present version of the copyright act exists, but establishing it is not straightforward.

“We are pleased that the government has recognised 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.

“Hopefully ISD retailers will no longer be so heavily represented at Singapore IT exhibitions and IT malls”.

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