SG retailer fined SG$160k for content piracy, director to serve 12 weeks in jail

Singapore electronics retailer Synnex Trading has been fined SG$160,800 for selling illegal streaming devices (ISD), which offered access to illegal broadcasts of Premier League football and other entertainment content. Its director Jia Xiaofeng was also sentenced to 12 weeks in jail and fined SG$5,400. Both parties were found guilty of four criminal chargers of copyright infringement.

According to a statement from the Premier League, Jia masterminded the operation and sold streaming devices from his electronics store on Geylang Road. The boxes were found to have been loaded with apps providing unauthorised access to films, TV shows, video-on-demand and live sports including Premier League football. These ISDs were falsely advertised to the public as legal and containing legitimately sourced content.

The complainant for the latest case was Neil Gane, general manager of the Coalition Against Piracy (CAP), an anti-piracy group created under Casbaa, trade association for the video industry in the Asia Pacific. This conviction follows the sentencing of another supplier in connection with this case, the Premier League said. In April, the company director of local retailer An-Nahl was fined after pleading guilty to one criminal charge of copyright infringement. The press statement added that the Premier League, Singtel, StarHub and Fox Networks Group prosecuted these two landmark cases against ISD sellers in Singapore.

“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,” Premier League director of legal services Kevin Plumb said. He added that the sentencing shows that “this is not a grey area, and that selling these devices is against the law”.

In January this year, the Singapore government said it will implement new laws by the end of 2019 to ban the sale of ISDs that help consumers access pirated content. Under the new law, individuals who distribute or sell a product that is able to access pirated content will face civil and criminal liability.

Meanwhile in November last year, a survey commissioned by CAP found that approximately 15% of Singapore consumers use ISDs. Gane said previously that the overt availability of ISDs in Singapore malls and IT exhibitions is a “major concern” for the content industry. However, he added that due to the fragmented nature of the ecosystem, there is “no one silver bullet to deterring piracy”.

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)