Content players call for more action as local industry loses RM3bil annually

On Feb 16, a 46-year-old woman pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing six media boxes that allowed Astro’s content to be streamed illegally. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: Industry players are calling for stricter penalties against digital piracy, which they claim has caused the entertainment and media industry to suffer an estimated RM3bil loss annually.

“The penalty for those who use media boxes loaded with unauthorised apps is too light,” said Zahrin Aris, the honorary secretary of the Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM), in a statement.

On Feb 16, a 46-year-old woman pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing six media boxes that allowed Astro’s content to be streamed illegally.

The accused was fined RM30,000 under Section 232(2) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, making her the first illicit streaming device (ISD) seller to be charged under this provision.

“The penalty should be heavier. The value of content being pirated is definitely higher than the fine of only RM30,000," he said.

Laila Saat, director (regulatory) at Astro said the company will continue working with the authorities and content partners to send a strong message that content piracy is theft, illegal and punishable by law.

"If piracy is left unchecked, it will retard the entertainment industry as it doesn’t make economic sense for anyone to create or invest in premium content like rights to the FIFA World Cup, only to have them stolen and used illegally," she said.

Lam Swee Kim, chief marketing officer in the product division of the Star Media Group said: “The penalty imposed should reflect how severe the act of piracy impacts the industry and the act of fuelling piracy, in terms of monetisation or remuneration should also be monitored and penalised."

The local industry players are also appealing for a thorough review of existing regulations, saying that they currently don’t fully enforce, convict and provide copyright holders with sufficient protection against digital piracy.

There is also an urgent need to address ineffective blocking of illegal online streaming sites and sale of illicit streaming devices on e-commerce platforms, they said.

Producer and director Datuk Yusof Haslam said digital piracy cannot be curbed without the aid of the relevant authorities, adding that the act of illegal streaming has been an ongoing problem for the industry.

"I regret seeing empty rhetoric without a real solution to the problem. Without stricter regulations, piracy will continue to be a cancer to the creative industry and its talents," he added.

On Feb 8, an IT company in Shah Alam was the first company to be charged in court under Section 41 (1) (ha) of the Copyright Act 1987 for selling technology or equipment with the purpose circumventing protection measures, as referred to in subsection 36A(3) of the same Act.

The director pleaded guilty and is waiting for the court’s sentence on March 1.

Artistes Association of Malaysia president Zed Zaidi said he is hopeful that the recent charges mark a new beginning for the local industry as they will serve as "landmark cases".

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