'Rampant' video piracy in Singapore sparks calls for government crackdown: Report

'Rampant' video piracy in Singapore sparks calls for government crackdown: Report

SINGAPORE: The popularity of unauthorised streaming of thousands of movies, TV shows and live sporting events in Singapore has triggered calls for a government crackdown, according to a Bloomberg report on Monday (Dec 4).  

Bloomberg said that Singapore is being called a "haven" for pirating copyrighted programming by entertainment companies such as Walt Disney, HBO and the English Premier League.

It added that the Coalition Against Piracy has identified Singapore as the focal point in the entertainment industry’s campaign to curb piracy in the region.

The coalition's 21 members, including divisions of Sony and Twenty-First Century Fox, want the Singapore Government to block the pirating software inside the devices, which are found at local electronics stores and on e-commerce sites such as Lazada.

“Within the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore is the worst in terms of availability of illicit streaming devices,” Mr Neil Gane, general manager of the Asia-focused coalition was quoted as saying, referring to countries where the boxes are considered legal. “They have access to hundreds of illicit broadcasts of channels and video-on-demand content.” he added. 

Ms Lise-Anne Stottm, Singapore-based head of legal for A+E Networks Asia, expressed similar sentiments. 

“The piracy here is rampant and shockingly so,” she said. A+E Networks Asia is also a coalition member that offers History, Lifetime and three other channels.

According to London-based Digital TV Research, online TV and movie piracy will cost the industry an estimated US$31.8 billion (S$42.9 billion) in global revenue this year, reaching US$51.6 billion by 2022. The Asia-Pacific region will become the largest for online piracy next year, overtaking North America, the researcher said. 

And according to London-based Muso TNT, Singapore ranked ninth in the number of visits per Internet user to piracy websites. In a separate survey of 1,000 Singaporeans sponsored by Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA), about 40 per cent said they were active consumers of pirated content.

Bloomberg quoted the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) as saying: “Copyright infringement is not so much about a device or technology as it is about whether that device or technology is used in a manner that is illegal.

“Users of such devices should therefore ensure that they are accessing content from authorised content providers,” IPOS added. 

The industry’s efforts include lobbying the Singapore Government to eliminate any confusion about legal uses of the devices and to make it easier to take legal action against companies offering pirated content, said Mr John Medeiros, Hong Kong-based chief policy officer for CASBAA, the coalition’s parent organisation.

The coalition also wants Singapore to block streams of illegal content from entering the country, Bloomberg said. In 2016, Singapore blocked a website Solarmovie.ph for offering illegal downloads. 

Source: CNA/am