Case Study 20 – Copyright enforcement actions against illegal downloading in Singapore
Two Hollywood studios, “Voltage Pictures” and “QOTD Film Investment”, are the right owners of the two movies “Father & Daughters” and “Queen of the Desert”. They have been subject to serious copyright infringement carried out by illegal downloaders in Singapore for quite some time.
The two studios attempted a procedure against illegal downloaders in Singapore by applying to the Singapore High Court to compel local Internet Service Providers to release the particulars of internet subscribers who allegedly downloaded the movies, such as names, identity card numbers and addresses.
In April 2017, the Singapore High Court dismissed the application on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to show a link between the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and the alleged illegal downloaders. Many people may be sharing the same Wi-Fi connection, so it doesn’t mean that the registrant at a specific IP address is actually illegally downloading. Hence, an IP address alone is unlikely to be sufficient to identify the alleged illegal downloader.
- Illegal downloading is a common and challenging issue in South-East Asian countries of which copyright holders need to be aware.
- Copyright holders have the right to enforce their intellectual property against illegal downloaders, but they need to identify the account holder before they can ascertain whether a person is the actual illegal downloader.
- Copyright holders are recommended to consider enforcing their copyright via other means. For instance, the amended Copyright Act of Singapore, effective from December 2014, lets content owners seek a High Court order forcing Internet service providers to block piracy websites.