Singapore is set to hear its first case on illegal streaming of content via TV boxes, with two Android TV box sellers hauled to court today, according to a report by the Straits Times.

The offenders, local retailer Synnex Trading and trading firm An-Nahl, were reported to have contravened the Section 136 (3A) of the Copyright Act, which states that individuals found to have knowingly infringe copyrighted materials for profit will be prosecuted.

A first-time offence carries a penalty of S$20,000 (US$150,000), or a jail term not exceeding six months, or both. Subsequent offenders face a fine not exceeding $50,000 (US$37,700), or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or both.

However, lawyers told the Straits Times that there is ambiguity on whether the sale of these boxes and the installation of apps that stream content illegally fit the provision.

One of the case’s complainants is Neil Kevin Gane, general manager of the Coalition Against Piracy. The consortium, formed in October last year, consists of 21 studios such as HBO, Disney, Fox and BBC worldwide, and is focused on dismantling the vast network of illegal video content distribution in Asia.

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CAP previously identified Singapore as the worst violater of illegal video content distribution offence. GANE citied the easily availability of media boxes that can stream thousands of video content illegally — such as those sold by the accused — in the country.

And in a survey of 1,000 Singaporeans by industry association CASBAA, 40 per cent said they actively consumed illegally-streamed content.

The organisation has been actively lobbying the Singapore government to block streaming software embedded in these media boxes.

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore told Bloomberg last year that it was not the medium (media boxes) but rather the use of them that should be called into question.


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