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Asia Minute: Singapore’s Piracy Problem


Within the Asia Pacific region, Singapore is often held up as an example where free markets and the rule of law have combined to produce a prosperous society. But Singapore is now coming under growing criticism for a lack of enforcement in one area of the law: a form of video piracy. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Streaming video has never been more popular.

That’s true around the world, but when it comes to watching premium channels without paying, apparently there is no place like Singapore.

And Bloomberg reports the Asia-based “Coalition Against Piracy” wants the government to crack down.

The issue starts with the standard set-top box that goes with a cable television connection.

In Singapore, it’s relatively easy to use the technology in the boxes to access programming that usually requires subscription fees.

The Coalition wants the government to block the software that allows that access.

And this is not some non-profit group crusading for the public good—it’s an industry organization made up of companies from Sony and Disney to HBO and the soccer professionals of the English Premier League.

Singapore’s official position is the fault is not with the set top boxes, but with people who fiddle with them.

Bloomberg quotes the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore as saying “Copyright infringement is not so much about a device or technology as it is about whether that device or technology is used in a manner that is illegal.”

Pirated premium programming provides a pricey problem. London-based Digital TV Research says the cost of lost global revenue from online TV and movie piracy for this year alone will be nearly 32-billion dollars.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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