Man apologises to StarHub for 'content theft'

Man apologises to StarHub for 'content theft'
A StarHub Hubstation set-up box.

A man has issued a public apology to StarHub today for "having facilitated illegal access" to its cable channels using "unauthorised decoders".

In a half-page advertisement in The Straits Times, Mr Huang Zhijian, 42, apologises "unreservedly" to the telco, which has refused to say more about the issue.

Industry experts say that the apology could refer to one of two likely scenarios.

First, Mr Huang might have been part of a syndicate selling decoders that unlawfully decrypt StarHub content from a cable access point in residential homes.

Otherwise, he might have allowed others to access content from a subscribed StarHub service for them to transmit over illegal set top boxes.

Ms Tan Lay Eng, vice-president of StarHub's systems and assurance, said that Mr Huang's actions violated both the Copyright Act and the Broadcast Act.

"It amounts to content theft," she said. "StarHub respects and upholds intellectual property rights of content owners and will not hesitate to take decisive legal action to protect our rights and the legitimate interests of our content providers. We strongly urge customers to acquire their TV content from legal sources."

Today's public apology is the second that StarHub has received since 2000. In 2009, Vision Your Gadget Station apologised in The Straits Times for importing set top boxes which may have been used to illegally decode StarHub's encrypted broadcast transmissions.

The company settled out of court and also pledged to stop importing or selling such boxes and infringing StarHub's rights. Mr Huang has also promised to stop his "unlawful activities".

New laws will take effect by the end of this year, allowing content owners to seek High Court orders to get Internet service providers such as SingTel and StarHub to block websites that infringe copyright. A court case is also under way involving two men who are charged with dealing in illegal set top boxes.

This article was first published on JULY 7, 2014.
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