Malaysia: Illicit streaming devices are declared illegal

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Malaysia’s Intellectual Property High Court declared that the sale, offer for sale, distribution and/or supply of TV boxes or illicit streaming devices (ISDs) constitutes copyright infringement under Malaysia’s Copyright Act 1987.

The declaration resulted from an action by Measat Broadcast Networks, Astro’s service provider, against sellers of ISDs preloaded with applications that facilitate access to pirated streaming content.

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In February, an IT company director was charged with promoting Long TV Android boxes which allow the bypassing of technological protection measures on copyright broadcast work.

Also in February, a director of a mobile accessory company pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing TV media boxes that contains software to illegally stream Astro’s content and was fined under Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, making her the first ISD seller to be charged under this provision.

A prepared statement from Astro, a Malaysian pay TV provider, provides further details and quotes from interested parties including Astro themselves, the Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA), the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia, and others.

Why it matters

This decision adds momentum to other anti-piracy efforts by Malaysian authorities.  Site blocking regulation in the country resulted in a 64% decline in piracy between August 2019 and September 2020, according to research.

With respect to the current ISD decision, “The declaration … 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.” said Laila Saat, Director, Regulatory of Astro.

“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

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