Android TV box sellers charged with copyright infringement

Android TV box sellers charged with copyright infringement

Synnex set-top box copyright court case
Set-top box distributor Synnex Trading located in Tanjong Katong Complex. (Photo: TODAY/Najeer Yusof)

SINGAPORE: Two Android TV box sellers have been charged with "wilfully infringing" the copyright of four companies - telcos StarHub and Singtel, entertainment giant Fox Networks Group and football’s Premier League. 

Local distributor Synnex Trading and retailer An-Nahl, as well as their respective directors Jia Xiaofeng and Abdul Nagib Abdul Aziz, face multiple charges each under Section 136(3A) of the Copyright Act. 

The case could be a landmark, as the courts have not had an opportunity to clarify its legal positions on the law concerning piracy and the use of Android boxes, which give users unbridled access to copyrighted programmes.

These include channels such as the National Geographic, Fox, Star Sports, Astro, TVB and the English Premier League matches.

The case was brought by four parties, Singtel, StarHub, Fox Networks Group and Premier League.

A private prosecution was brought following the filing of a Magistrate’s Complaint.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow’s Andy Leck and Lim Ren Jun are leading the prosecution. 

In a joint statement communicated through their lawyers, Starhub, SingTel, Fox Networks Group and Premier League said that as members of the broadcasting industry they will continue to take "concerted and decisive action against content piracy through public education as well as via legal channels to uphold intellectual property rights".

"The alarming proliferation of piracy and illicit streaming devices that are used to view copyright-protected content hurts both consumers and producers. 

"Piracy makes it untenable for producers to keep on creating content for the public's enjoyment and Singapore cannot effectively encourage innovation when intellectual property rights are constantly trampled on," they added. 

Synnex Trading and company director Jia were charged with four counts each, including for “wilfully infringing copyrighted cable programmes … to a significant extent and to obtain a commercial advantage”. They had sold at least four streaming devices to at least two customers between May 2017 and September 2017, the charge sheets stated.

In addition, the company and its director are accused of having 104 illicit streaming devices specifically designed or adapted for making copies of copyrighted programmes and films on May 23, 2017 at premises at Geylang Road.

Jia will next appear in court on Feb 2.

An-Nahl and company director Abdul Nagib face two charges each for selling one set of the box in May 2017, and for having 12 streaming devices at the retailer’s premises at Tanjong Katong Complex later that month, charge sheets state.

An-Nahl director Abdul Nagib told the court he intends to claim trial to the charges against him and his company. He will next appear in court on Jan 26.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of the article said the criminal case proceeded to court after all parties involved could not reach a settlement following the filing of a Magistrate’s Complaint. This is incorrect. The parties did not discuss a settlement at any point in time. We are sorry for the error. 

Source: CNA/ms