Astro lauds court's declaration that sale of TV boxes constitutes copyright infringement

Astro lauds court's declaration that sale of TV boxes constitutes copyright infringement
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KUALA LUMPUR (May 24): The Intellectual Property High Court in Kuala Lumpur has declared that the sale and distribution of TV boxes or illicit streaming devices (ISDs) that can provide unauthorised access to copyrighted works constitutes a copyright infringement under the Copyright Act 1987, according to Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd.

The decision, which Astro said in a statement today is considered to be the first by the court, is positively received by authorities and industry players like itself in their battle against digital piracy, and lauded as a bold step in the right direction against such piracy in Malaysia.

The decision came following a legal action brought to the Intellectual Property High Court by Astro's service provider Measat Broadcast Networks Sdn Bhd against a seller of ISD that has been preloaded with applications that act as gateways to websites or content servers streaming pirated content.

“The declaration by the High Court that sale of ISD which allows access to unauthorised copyright content amounts to copyright infringement sets a precedent for future civil claims on copyright infringement against ISD sellers in the market, including those on e-commerce platforms," said Astro regulatory director Laila Saat.

"This ground-breaking declaration will strengthen intellectual property protection in the country and ongoing anti-piracy efforts, which are pivotal to ensure continuous investment and job creation in Malaysia’s media and entertainment industry. We will continue to work with authorities and content partners to send a strong message that content piracy is theft, illegal and punishable by law,” she said.

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chief regulatory officer Zulkarnain Mohd Yasin was also quoted in the statement as saying that the court's decision will strengthen the legal aspects in protecting copyright infringement and battle against piracy, especially in digital and networked forms.

National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) chief executive officer Dr Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri, meanwhile, said FINAS fully supports legal actions taken by Astro against ISD sellers and all digital piracy activities, as these illegal activities have caused the local creative industry a huge loss in revenue every year.

Intellectual Property Corp of Malaysia (MyIPO) deputy director-general Zulkarnain Muhammad said MyIPO looks forward to cases concerning ISDs to be brought forward to the Malaysian court. “Prevalent and widespread use of ISDs cause far more economic harm than physical copyright piracy. These devices are part of a wider network of online copyright piracy, which will in the long run [disincentivize] original creators from producing creative work. Copyright piracy in any form should be curbed and deterred,” he said.

According to Astro, the estimated loss to the industry and Malaysian economy due to piracy is over RM3 billion annually, with RM500 million in taxes and thousands of jobs at risk.

It also highlighted that the intellectual property court's decision today follows recent criminal cases successfully brought against ISD retailers.

Astro Malaysia shares closed eight sen or 7.77% higher at RM1.11 today, valuing the group at RM5.79 billion.

Tan Choe Choe