Special 301 Close-up: Malaysia has developed a successful anti-piracy framework

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Malaysia is one of a handful of countries in the Asia-Pacific region that stands as an example against piracy.  Piracy has plummeted as a result of collaboration among national and multi-national/regional industry organizations, backed by a foundation of legal, law enforcement and regulatory components.

In its submission for the Special 301 report, to be published in April by the Office of the US Trade Representative, it quoted AVIA’s 2023 research about piracy in Malaysia: that 64% of consumers in Malaysia changed their viewing habits as a result of pirate sites being blocked there.

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From 2021 until December 2023, a total of 2,341 links or websites were blocked and 2,071 illegal content have been removed, with the cooperation of the content industry such as Premier League (World Cup), ASTRO, AVIA and other industries involving copyright; according to the Special 301 entry by Malaysia’s Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI)

Government commitment

According to MITI’s submission, the Malaysian Government is committed to combating counterfeiters and pirates through appropriate administrative, statutory, and regulatory measures including:

  1. Continuous enforcement throughout the country with the copyright owners;
  2. Sharing intelligence and learning best practices on site blocking and content identification with enforcement officers by the copyright owner;
  3. Engagement with the platform owner for the content removal of any merchant who is suspected and identified as selling pirated goods online;
  4. Taking action under Section 41 Copyright Act 1987 in collaboration with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) under Section 263 (2), Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 in addressing issues related to copyright and intellectual property infringement such as site blocking and content removal; and
  5. Establishment of a Special Task Force Combating Intellectual Property to coordinate enforcement actions and formulate integrated operational actions among government agencies and industry to combat the distribution and sale of counterfeit and pirated goods either physically or through the online platform

Takedowns in 48 hours

Malaysia’s blocking process operates under the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Costs of Living (MDTCL) and was designed to have expedited timelines such that the MDTCA could accept and review referrals and, if determined appropriate, direct ISPs to block piracy websites within a designated timeframe. All ISPs must comply with the government blocking order within 48 hours.

Copyright enforcement

Malaysia’s Copyright (Amendment) Act 2022 aims to strengthen provisions relating to the enforcement of copyright, especially in the digital environment, and explicitly recognizes streaming technology as an avenue to copyright infringement; defining penalties against offenders on offences relating to streaming technology.

As a result, a total of 2,341 links or websites were blocked and 2,071 illegal content have been removed between 2021 until December 2023, with the cooperation of the content industry.

Further reading

Comment from Government of Malaysia (Ministry of Investment, Trade & Industry – MITI). Late. February 13, 2024. Docket (USTR-2023-0014), Accessed March 1, 2024. Office of the US Trade Representative

Special 301 submissions by IPR stakeholders help US Trade Rep target piracy.  Article. March 6, 2024. Piracy Monitor

2024 Special 301 Report. Web site. Docket (USTR-2023-0014), Accessed March 1, 2024. Office of the US Trade Representative

Why it matters

Digital enforcement and online piracy is clearly an increasing problem in Malaysia necessitating a greater level of collaboration between Malaysian agencies in data sharing on IP rights and capacity-building activities to educate rights owners and enforcement agencies.

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