New laws will put a ban on sales of illegal streaming devices in Singapore

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Singapore will be introduced to new law bills, which will be presented in Parliament this year to put a ban on the sale of media streaming boxes with "add-on" services that allow consumers to access pirated content.

It should be noted that in 2018 another south-east Asian country, India's Maharashtra Govt Cyber Digital Crime Unit (MCDCU) has blocked 235 websites, which used to provide pirated Bollywood, Hollywood and TV content. Even Australian Federal Court ordered internet services providers (ISPs) to block piracy subtitle websites in December, last year.

In the case of Singapore, the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) reviewed the issue for three years and came to this conclusion. Many copyright holders have found it difficult to apply many many of the usual legal avenues created in the DVD era against set-top box retailers.

The MinLaw said in its Copyright Review Report issued on Thursday that "We are of the view that legislative amendments are needed to both clarify our policy position and the actions that can be taken against retailers of such set-top boxes."

In a statement, the ministry said, "The measures, which are absent today, will make clear that acts such as the import and sale of such devices are prohibited."

The review includes three town halls, two public consultations and 10 engagement sessions conducted since August 2016. The process also required the feedbacks from industry and trade associations, consumers, various stakeholders, businesses, intellectual property practitioners and academics. After the completion, the MinLaw and Ipos had received almost 100 formal submissions and more than 280 online feedback forms.

The new bill will impose civil and criminal liability on people who distribute or sell a product that can be used to access pirated contents, in case the product is designed for such access or advertise in that way.

Even selling a generic device with "add-on" services, such as supplying links to an unauthorized website or subscription service to pirated contents, will be also considered as an illegal activity.

The Copyright Act was enacted in 1987 which is an Act relating to copyright and matters related thereto. In 2014, changes were made in the law that allows the original content owners to seek High Court order to get Internet service providers to block piracy websites. In November 2018, High Court ordered to block over 60 websites.