Crackdown on Anime Downloads in Singapore

by Gladys MIRANDAH of Patrick Mirandah co. in SingaporeRecently, ODEX, a privately owned Singaporean company caused an uproar among anime fans, when it decided to undertake what certain quarters called a “clampdown on illegal anime downloading”. ODEX obtained records from Internet Sevice Providers, in order to detect and track down local internet users who used their accounts to download anime programmes illegally.To date, ODEX has sent letters to an undisclosed number of Internet users from Starhub, demanding a settlement of up to $5,000 and a promise to stop further illegal downloading. Furthermore, ODEX also sent letters to an undisclosed number of SingNet subscribers also accused of illegally downloading anime.Anime, a form of Japanese-styled cartoons have a massive following throughout the world, particularly in Asia where there has been a recent boom in demand, as the wide appeal of the shows reached mass non-Japanese speaking audiences.Episodes of such shows are available throughout the Internet, via file sharing or fan-based download websites, in which both members and non-members are able to access the digital format of the files for their own usage. And since the imported VCD and DVD versions for these anime are quite expensive and are mostly outdated, sometimes several “seasons” back, the urge for fans to tap into the more up-to-date and “free” alternative” means beckons.In lieu of the current situation, ODEX does have the right in pursuing illegal downloaders of anime shows which they hold the distributing rights in Singapore to. However, their right to access into the service providers’ records in doing so is disputable.Adopting the RIAA style lawsuits as implemented by the US recording industry to track down illegal file sharing/ downloading, ODEX hired a US-based company to track down the IP addresses of the “illegal downloaders” in Singapore. From here, ODEX sought contact information for the “identified illegal downloaders” from three Singapore Internet Service Providers.While ODEX managed to acquire access to accounts and sent letters of cease and desist to an undisclosed number of SingNet and StarHub users, ODEX have so far been unsuccessful in obtaining some 1, 000 user records from Internet Service Provider, Pacific Internet . District Judge Ernest Lau ruled that ODEX had failed to meet a number of requirements for the release of such information, as the company was the exclusive licensee for only one anime title and its provided evidence was found to be unsatisfactory.As the matter stands, it is collectively accepted that downloading of online content, without consent of the copyright owners of such material, through means deemed “unofficial” by its respective owners are illegal. However, ODEX’s move in acquiring the user records is questionable, as internet service providers have an obligation to keep their customers’ records confidential; which is not the case here and so serious examination of this practice needs to take place.Ref URL 1: http://www.todayonline.com/articles/207450.asp
Ref URL 2: http://www.todayonline.com/articles/206667.asp
Author: Gladys MIRANDAH
Firm: patrick mirandah co. (singapore)
Ref Email: gladys@mirandah.com; singapore@mirandah.com

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