STAMPING OUT ILLEGAL STREAMING TECHNOLOGY – RECENT AMENDMENTS TO THE COPYRIGHT ACT The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs has been taking proactive steps to combat online copyright infringement In today's technological era, digital media content is being uploaded effortlessly through various online platforms. Copyright infringement not only exists in the form of...
Access the exclusive LEGAL ERAStories,Editorial and Expert Opinion
STAMPING OUT ILLEGAL STREAMING TECHNOLOGY – RECENT AMENDMENTS TO THE COPYRIGHT ACT
The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs has been taking proactive steps to combat online copyright infringement
In today's technological era, digital media content is being uploaded effortlessly through various online platforms. Copyright infringement not only exists in the form of importing, selling, letting or distributing infringing copyrighted work, but it has reached a step further. The sale, distribution and/or supply of illegal streaming devices, which enable unauthorized access to copyrighted contents, has become a common trend.
A recent survey revealed that almost a quarter (23 percent) of Malaysian consumers are using streaming technology to access pirated television and video content. Many of them admitted canceling their subscriptions to content streaming services and purchasing illegal streaming devices.
The fact remains that despite the illegal activity has been in existence for years, the Malaysia Copyright Act 1987 had not been updated, until very recently, to specifically combat such offences. It, undoubtedly, resulted in significant losses to the content creators, copyright owners, and the entertainment and media industry.
With a substantial increase in the sale and distribution of illegal streaming devices in Malaysia, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA) has been taking proactive steps to combat online copyright infringement.
Furthermore, it witnessed judicial recognition of the issue when the High Court in the Measat Broadcast Network Systems Sdn Bhd vs Koo Kok Wee (Suit No. WA-22IP-61-10/2020) case declared that the sale, distribution, dissemination and supply of television boxes or illicit streaming devices (configured to provide unauthorized access to copyrighted content), constituted a violation of the Copyright Act.
However, it was not clear how the finding was reached as the act of sale and distribution of streaming devices were not strictly acts controlled by the copyright.
Despite the steps taken by MDTCA and attempts by the courts to deal with these activities, the provisions of the 1987 Act appeared inadequate to specifically address the problems caused by illegal streaming technology. The existing provisions needed to be stretched to capture this form of infringement even though it was not the intent and spirit of the provisions.
This situation demanded changes, and this was addressed in the Copyright (Amendment) Act 2022. The new Section 43AA brought into existence new offenses. It spelt out the possible penalties imposed on convicted offenders, thereby, demonstrating a commitment on the part of the government to taking serious steps to stamp out illegal streaming technology.
Section 43AA provides that it would be an offense if a person commits or facilitates:
(a) manufacturing a streaming technology for sale or hire,
(b) importing a streaming technology,
(c) selling or letting for hire, offering, exposing or advertising for sale or hire, possessing or distributing a streaming technology during a business,
(d) distributing a streaming technology for purposes other than during a business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright,
(e) offering to the public or providing any service of streaming technology.
To dispel misconceptions, the Amendment Act defined 'streaming technology' to include a computer program, device or component, used in part or in a whole that results in an infringement of the copyright in a work.
A person found to have committed or facilitated any of the acts mentioned above would be liable to a fine of no less than RM10,000 and no more than RM200,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years, or both.
If an offense is committed by a corporate body or a person who is a partner in a firm (the director, chief executive officer, chief operating officer, secretary, manager or a person in a similar capacity), he would be deemed guilty of the offense. He would be charged severally or jointly with the corporate body or the firm.
The person charged with the offense would also include someone who purported to the act in any such capacity or was responsible for the management of the affairs of the corporate body or the firm or was assisting in such a management.
The only exception would be in case the person concerned can show that the offense was committed without his consent or connivance and that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of the offense.
The traders would now be reminded not to indulge in the acts of manufacturing, importing, distributing, offering for sale or sale of streaming technology. They would be apprised of the consequences of enabling and allowing unauthorized access to the copyrighted contents as they may be liable to a fine or imprisonment or both, upon conviction.
The specific provisions now empower the MDTCA to be the stronghold and protect the rights of the content creators, copyright owners and the entertainment and media industry. The MDTCA has been proactive with enforcement activities already ongoing after amendments to the Act.
Disclaimer – The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the authors and are purely informative in nature.