Unlicensed sports in commercial establishments: Malayan court action sets precedent

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The High Court of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur has issued a landmark ruling determining a local commercial premises to have acted illegally by showing pirate broadcasts of sports and entertainment content, including Premier League football.

The Directors of 42 East Pub and Restaurant in KL were showing content in their premises without a legitimate commercial broadcast subscription to Astro.

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It is illegal for commercial premises to show content from unauthorised sources, whether through pirate foreign channels or Astro broadcasts without the appropriate commercial licence. Future legal actions could lead to significant financial and legal consequences for anyone found to be showing infringing content in their commercial premises.

This ruling follows recent amends to Malaysia’s Copyright Act 2022, which strengthens legislation around copyright infringement and empowers authorities to act against those selling illegal streaming devices and illegal website operators.

Read Astro’s news release: Landmark ruling from KL court sets legal precedent for copyright infringement. Nov 24, 2022.

Why it matters

While this remedy is new in Malaysia, showing unlicensed sports programming in commercial premises such as pubs is commonly prosecuted in other countries, most notably in the UK and other British Commonwealth countries.

“This decision from the High Court of Malaya, which makes it very clear that anyone showing pirated content in a commercial premises is breaking the law,” said Kevin Plum, General Counsel for the Premier League. “The Premier League works closely with Astro and Malaysian law authorities, to take action against piracy and help educate fans – we want to ensure they can come together to watch and enjoy Premier League content in the best quality via legitimate sources.”

Astro Group’s CEO-Designate Euan Smith added, “Piracy deeply hurts our ability to keep serving sports fans and commercial enterprises. It damages the income of the entire content creation industry, reduces the amount of tax being received by the Government to support the Malaysian economy, and puts F&B owners at risk of serious financial penalties. We are committed to working closely with the authorities, industry players and the Premier League in battling piracy and in encouraging commercial enterprises to only watch live sports on legal and high-quality platforms.”


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