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Intellectual property (IP) lawyers whom TODAY spoke to noted that it is not unusual for IP cases to proceed under private prosecution.

Between 20, Star Hub went after bootleg set-top box sellers who decoded the pay-TV operator’s encrypted broadcast signals and give users free access to channels.The court schedule lists Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) general manager Neil Kevin Gane as the complainant.TODAY understands he is acting on behalf of four parties, including Star Hub.This was after the CAP — whose members include major entertainment companies — said the devices facilitate “rampant” piracy in Singapore.Mr Gane had voiced concerns over the “overt sales” of set-top boxes in malls and IT fairs.The sale and distribution of these decoders are illegal under the Broadcasting Act.

However, in the past three to five years, new technologies have allowed pirates to circumvent the law, and the set-top boxes nowadays that use apps to stream content do not have decoders and are considered legal.

Lawyers whom TODAY spoke to said the case could be a landmark, as it provides an opportunity for the court to clarify its legal positions on the law concerning set-top boxes which do not store or decrypt copyrighted content.

According to the State Courts’ hearing list published on its website, a hearing is scheduled on Friday (Jan 12) where set-top box distributor Synnex Trading and its client, An-Nahl, a wholesale goods retailer located in Tanjong Katong Complex, could become the first Android box sellers to be hauled to court under the Copyright Act.

They are not ‘empty’ and therefore ‘legal’ boxes,” he said.

When contacted at the time, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) reaffirmed its stance that only set-top boxes with decoding capabilities are illegal. The devices highlighted in (the 2014 incident) were designed to decode encrypted broadcast signals, allowing users full access to TV programmes without paying subscription fees.

The criminal case proceeded to court after all parties involved in the case could not reach a settlement following the filing of a Magistrate’s Complaint.