SHOULD Malaysia ban media streaming boxes, following Singapore’s proposed ban on the device?
Malaysian filmmakers are all for it.
“I think any form of move to curb piracy is a positive one, and every country should take those steps to protect the content provider,” says director Quek Shio Chuan, who is best known for his entertaining festive TV ads and last year’s award-winning film Guang.
He is currently co-directing The Ghost Bride, which is Netflix’s first Mandarin original series shot in Malaysia. During this interview, he was into the 13th day of filming in Taiping out of a 60-day schedule; the locations also include Ipoh, Johor Baru and Penang.
“Competing for the audience’s attention with our content is already challenging. Illegal streaming creates even more competition as it is free and easily accessible,” Quek adds.
Media streaming boxes, better known as Android boxes or set-top boxes, allow consumers to access both legal and illegal sites on the internet for creative content.
With these devices, one can stream the latest movies as well as TV series, local and foreign TV channels either for free or with a small subscription fee. Content showing on Internet streaming platforms like dimsum and Netflix or from satellite TV Astro is often uploaded on illegal sites and shared.
Singapore recently stated that it would table new laws in parliament to ban the sale of media streaming boxes with services that allowed consumers to access pirated contents. This is to curb the infringement of copyrights and intellectual properties.
Dimsum chief marketing officer Lam Swee Kim has also spoken out on the matter.
“It’s not a matter of who will benefit from this. The greater picture here is to stop piracy. It’s not that the streaming box is not good but the content passing through it is illegal.
“There is a misconception by consumers who think that whatever they pay to the sellers of these boxes actually go to content owners. It actually goes directly to the manufacturer of the hardware and the distributor and not the content or intellectual property (IP) owners,” she told The Star in an interview recently.
Some think that banning the device alone won’t curb illegal streaming which could be done through other means.
Paskal The Movie director Adrian Teh suggests: “(The government) should make it an obligation for Internet service provider to ban illegal streaming websites like how they have banned porn pages here. Also penalise users who are found guilty of sharing piracy contents.”
One of the biggest crusaders in the local film industry against piracy is director/actor Syamsul Yusof, who most recently took legal action against the party who uploaded his film Munafik 2 online.
In November, Syamsul won the case in court and the individual was ordered to pay RM100,000 to Munafik 2’s production company, Skop Productions. At a press conference last year Syamsul urged filmmakers to unite and take legal action against those who are committing the crime, as it’s the only way to get through to those who do not respect the intellectual property.
“It is time for action,” Syamsul had said.
Director Aziz M. Osman, whose film XX Ray III is currently showing at cinemas, concurs that the piracy issue has been around for a long time.
“It was there since I started in the industry,” says Aziz, who has been helming films since the 1990s, and is the son of M. Osman, a well-known Malaysian singer in 1960s.
“Actually even my father’s recordings were pirated. But the only difference now is that the high-end technology has become so advanced that (piracy) has become unstoppable.
“But piracy can be curbed if the government is involved. In the United States, the FBI is part of the solution. But here it is not a priority for the authorities and that is very disappointing. We have to settle the problem ourselves, and we cannot win because the technology is too high end, and anyone can do it. Even I can do it,” says Aziz, adding almost every production of his has been uploaded online.
“At the moment, I just follow how Skop Productions does it – which is to leave a message to the person who uploaded the material to delete the material.
“Sometimes it’s effective, sometimes it is not. That is why the government has to get involved.”