Firm gets $160,800 fine for illegal streaming devices

PHOTO: The New Paper

Company director Jia Xiaofeng was given three months' jail yesterday and fined $5,400 over a case of illegal broadcasts of Premier League football and other entertainment content.

His company, local distributor Synnex Trading, was handed a record fine of $160,800 for selling illegal streaming devices (ISDs). This is the second case of its kind here.

In April, the company director of local retailer An-Nahl, who sold ISDs supplied by Jia, was fined $1,200 after he was convicted of one criminal charge of copyright infringement.

The suit against Jia and Synnex was initiated by Mr Neil Kevin Gane, who was representing several rights owners, including the English Premier League and pay-TV operators Singtel and StarHub.

Jia and the company were each convicted of four charges under the Copyright Act.

Jia was the mastermind of the operation, selling illegal Android TV boxes from the Synnex store in Geylang Road.

These ISDs are typically pre-installed with subscription-based applications which provide access to several unauthorised live television channels and video-on-demand content, including English Premier League matches streamed by Singtel, channels such as National Geographic owned by Fox, and the TVB channels streamed on StarHub.

Synnex also offered a range of ISD-related post-sale services such as the repair of such devices and assistance to renew and activate a user's subscription for the applications.

In 2017, investigators visited the Synnex premises on three occasions and bought four ISDs for about $400 each.

The ISDs were openly displayed and offered for sale.

'NOT ILLEGAL'

During one visit, a Synnex employee told the investigator that the ISDs were not illegal and users accessing the content would not be infringing the law.

He also said the "HDTV" application in the ISDs offered more than 300 live channels, while the "Huat88TV" application offered 200 channels. Full subscriptions to Singtel and StarHub would offer less than 100 channels each.

A search warrant was issued on May 2017, and 255 ISDs and some documents were seized from Synnex.

Jia had also supplied ISDs to the company director of An-Nahl, Abdul Nagib Abdul Aziz, and paid him a commission of $20 to $25 for each device sold.

In a statement yesterday, Premier League director of legal services Kevin Plumb said: "This case shows there are serious consequences for sellers of illegal streaming devices and that the Premier League will prosecute those responsible for the piracy of our content.

"This sentencing shows that this is not a grey area and that selling these devices is against the law."

This article was first published inĀ The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.