Digital piracy “bleeding” RM 3 bil yearly from the local entertainment industry

THE local media and entertainment industry losses about RM3 bil annually due to digital piracy, leaving the Government’s coffers poorer by RM500 mil in tax revenue and risking thousands of jobs.

“That is why we feel that the current penalty for committing acts of digital piracy doesn’t commensurate with the huge economic losses suffered by the content providers.

“Nevertheless, we laud the authorities for its recent action to clamp down on digital piracy in Malaysia,” said an ad hoc coalition, Malaysia’s Entertainment and Media Industry (E&M), in a statement.

On Feb 8 February, an IT company in Shah Alam was hauled up in court under Section 41 (1) of the Copyright Act 1987 for selling technology or equipment for the purpose of the circumvention of technological protection measure.

The director pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing next month.

Subsequently on Feb 16, a 46-year-old woman pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing six TV media boxes which allows illegal streaming of Astro’s content via the internet.

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. 

On the recent cases, Astro regulatory director Laila Saat said her organisation will continue working with the authorities and content partners to send a strong message that content piracy is an act of theft.

She also that piracy is the biggest scourge of the industry; stealing from every person in the creative ecosystem such as actors, writers, producers, directors and cameraman, thus hampering development.

“Piracy has become so pervasive that many have forgotten it is theft. If 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,” Laila added.

Digital piracy laws need an upgrade

On the punishment imposed, Star Media Group chief marketing officer Lam Swee Kim said the penalty imposed should reflect how severe the act of piracy impacts the industry, on top of fuelling piracy, adding its monetisation or remuneration should also be monitored and penalised.

“We appeal to the Government to carry out a thorough review of the existing regulations, which currently does not fully enforce, convict, deter infringements; nor does it provide copyright holders with sufficient protection for their creative works against digital piracy.  

“Eradication of digital piracy to ensure that only responsible content is streamed requires collaborative efforts of all parties from content providers, broadcasters, regulators, authorities and consumers, to telecommunication providers, internet service and ecommerce providers. 

“In particular, there is an urgent need to address key enablers of digital piracy such as ineffective blocking of illegal streaming sites over the internet and ISDs being openly sold on ecommerce platforms,” Lam opined.

On related matter, Persatuan Penerbit Filem (PFM) honorary secretary Zahrin Aris said the penalty for those who use media boxes loaded with unauthorised app was too light.

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

Echoing his sentiments, popular director cum producer Datuk Yusof Haslam opined that without resolve from the Government, digital piracy will remain a menace to the local entertainment fraternity.

Persatuan Seniman Malaysia (Seniman) president Zed Zaidi remarked: “Digital piracy, enabled by ISD, has long plagued the local creative industry.

“We are hopeful that the recent charges mark a new beginning for the industry; and providing justice for the local creative players who are the victims of this criminal act.” – Feb 23, 2021.

 

 

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