99 Web domains illegally streaming sports, Korean drama blocked in S’pore

The domains are linked to websites that allow users to illegally stream movies, TV shows and sports channels. — The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE: Ninety-nine domain names belonging to websites illegally streaming sports and Korean drama content are among the latest to be blocked under a recent Singapore court order.

The 99 Web addresses are linked to 30 websites – including SportsBay, 123Movies and KissAsian – that allow users to illegally stream movies, TV shows and sports channels belonging to copyright holders BBC Studios, Discovery Communications, LaLiga, the Premier League and TVB International.

All major Internet service providers (ISPs) in Singapore – MyRepublic, Singtel, ViewQwest, M1 and StarHub – were informed at the end of August to block the Web addresses, said the Asia Video Industry Association (Avia), which represents the copyright holders.

When contacted, MyRepublic, Singtel and ViewQwest said they have complied. M1 and StarHub declined to confirm whether they have done so.

“Tools such as site blocking, when used efficiently and effectively, are very powerful in combating online piracy and countering the damage and harm it causes,” said Matthew Cheetham, general manager of Avia’s Coalition Against Piracy group.

Close to 150 Web addresses linked to the same websites were blocked earlier this year following a High Court order in February that ruled in favour of the same copyright holders.

The February court order provided for “dynamic site blocking”, which allows the copyright holders to notify the ISPs to block other Web addresses that point users to the same illegal websites.

The 99 Web domains were added to the 150 Web addresses in August under the February court order.

Dynamic site blocking targets the use of alternative Web addresses to let users sidestep blocked content. For instance, if “socceronline.com” is blocked, new alternatives such as “socceronline.me” or “socceronline.info” would pop up to provide access to the same content, rendering the original site blocking ineffective.

The first court order for dynamic site blocking was issued here in 2018, against 53 piracy websites, including The Pirate Bay and Solarmovie.sc.

The ruling by the High Court then abolished the need at the time for copyright holders to make separate court applications to block each alternative Web address.

More than one-third of 1,000 respondents in Singapore in a survey, conducted in December 2021 by research firm YouGov and commissioned by Avia, said that site blocking changed their content viewing habits, such as by subscribing to paid legitimate services instead.

In a similar survey by YouGov in Indonesia, more than half of about 2,300 respondents said they had stopped or rarely access pirate services after piracy sites were blocked.

As at April, the Indonesian government has blocked about 3,500 illegal websites since it started such enforcement action in the middle of 2019.

Court orders for site blocking were also issued in Australia in December 2021 and February, in favour of copyright holders such as Netflix and Disney. They targeted a total of about 100 illegal websites, including 123series and Vumoo. – The Straits Times (Singapore)/Asia News Network

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