SHAH ALAM: A 46-year-old mother of three became the first person to be punished in Malaysia for using media boxes containing apps that can illegally procure entertainment content.
Ng Lee Lee was fined RM30,000 after pleading guilty at the Sessions Court in front of judge Muhamad Anas Mahadzir to the charges under the Communications and Multimedia Act.
Ng, who is the director of a company called Little Yap Resources, was caught with six media boxes containing the MyTV.apk app at a premises in Taman Putra Prima, Sepang, in a raid on Dec 12 last year.
Upon inspection of the boxes at the Cyber and Multimedia Crime Investigation Unit at Bukit Aman on Dec 19 and 20, a representative from Measat Broadcast Network System Sdn Bhd confirmed all six media boxes can air content from various channels owned by Measat Broadcast Network System’s Astro, without having to pay subscription.
DPP Syazwani Zawawi asked the court to impose a fine of RM30,000 for each of the six offences, given that the maximum penalty under the charge was RM300,000 and three years’ jail.
“This case is the first of its kind, and there is a need to set a benchmark on the penalty imposed.
“It must also be taken into consideration that it involves public interest, such as the paying customers as well as the licence and rights owner of the content, ’’ she said.
Muhamad Anas then asked Syazwani to explain how the case was of public interest as well as how it affected the public.
Syazwani said that 4.7 million people were paying to subscribe to Astro, while the media box, which is sold for about RM300 to RM400, provided the same content for free.
“It also impacts the economy as taxes are paid to the government, but when it is not legal and free, there is a loss of that (taxes), ’’ she added.
However, Muhamad Anas disagreed with the DPP’s contention that the case involved public interest.
“Astro is not the public, and Astro has every right to take personal action against her (Ng), ’’ he said.
Ng’s defence counsel, Low Li Qun, asked the court to impose a fine of RM1,000 for each charge, and said her client also supported her aged parents and parents-in-law, other than her three children.
When making her plea, Ng said authorities had seized 55 media boxes from her premises, but only six had the MyTV.apk app.
“Normally, we only sell empty hardware, but that day, the customer asked us to do this (install the app in the media boxes), ’’ she said.
Ng added she was aware she had committed the offence, saying she had to earn a living as her business had dropped by 80% due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
She also apologised to the court, and undertook not to repeat the crime.
When delivering his judgment, Muhamad Anas said the crime committed by Ng was prevalent, and was a form of piracy to achieve easy profits from the hard work of others.
He said it was a very serious offence even though it may appear otherwise.
“I believe the box for streaming is a one-off buy, and if you want to upgrade, you do it like once a year.
“All content and channels are free, and so, it is piracy, ’’ said Muhamad Anas.
Koh Shueh Jing from legal firm Wong & Partners held a watching brief for Measat Broadcast Network System.