In a landmark ruling in Singapore, an electronics retailer has been convicted of selling illegal streaming devices (ISDs), which provides users access to illegal broadcasts of various entertainment content like Premier League football.
At the end of a 22-month long court battle, Synnex Trading and its Director Jia Xiaofeng were found guilty of four criminal charges of copyright infringement for helping people access pirated content via Android TV boxes. Jia was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail and ordered to pay a fine of SGD 5,400 and Synnex Trading was ordered to pay a fine of SGD 160,800.
Jia, who masterminded the operation, sold the Android TV boxes, from his electronics store on Geylang Road. He pleaded guilty to four criminal charges for "wilfully authorising copyright infringement of copyrighted works for commercial gain" by selling the devices which had apps providing illegal access to the Premier League, other live sports, National Geographic documentaries, films, TV shows and video-on-demand. These ISDs were falsely advertised to the public as legal and containing legitimately sourced content.
“This case shows there are serious consequences for sellers of illegal streaming devices and that the Premier League will prosecute those responsible for the piracy of our content. This sentencing shows that this is not a grey area, and that selling these devices is against the law,” said Kevin Plumb, Director of Legal Services, Premier League.
This conviction comes on the heels of the April case against the company director of local retailer An-Nahl, who was fined SGD 1200 after pleading guilty to one criminal charge of copyright infringement. Both Synnex Trading and An-Nahl and their directors were taken to court in January 2018 by pay-TV operators Singtel and StarHub, Fox Networks Group and the Premier League. These are the first ever successful prosecutions of ISD sellers in Singapore.
Following a three-year review of local copyright laws by the Ministry of Law and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, new laws are set to be tabled in Parliament in the next few months. These laws will aim to ban the sale of streaming boxes that provide "add-on" services which help consumers access illegal or pirated content.