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Digital Life

Pulling the plug on online piracy

New rules to stop online piracy are being proposed. But the tech-savvy will find ways around the blocks. Kenny Chee looks at how other countries tackle the issue and the steps that can be taken.

Published on Apr 22, 2014 9:45 AM
A screenshot of Netflix, a streaming site that offers a vast selection of television shows and movies from the United States. Experts believe education and easy access to affordable legal content are key in the fight against piracy. -- PHOTO: NETFLIX

The cat-and-mouse game between downloaders and copyright holders will only intensify after new rules aimed at blocking online piracy kick in, according to media and legal experts.

They caution that tech-savvy users will find ways of getting around the block, while piracy sites could spawn mirror portals that will make enforcement a daunting challenge.

The warnings follow the announcement on April 7 that the Law Ministry is proposing legislation to allow content owners to ask the High Court for orders forcing Internet service providers, such as SingTel and StarHub, to ban access to piracy sites such as the infamous The Pirate Bay.

These sites allow users to illegally download films, TV shows and other content that would normally require payment.

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Background story

What is The Pirate Bay?

  • Founded in 2003 by Swedish anti-copyright group Piratbyran (The Bureau of Piracy, in English).
  • Allows people to connect with one another to share files online.
  • Intended to have more Scandinavian content, but by the end of 2004, 80 per cent of its users were from other parts of the world. In 2005, the site was redesigned and made available in several languages.
  • In 2006, the Motion Picture Association of America asked Swedish authorities to take action against The Pirate Bay. Three days after its offices were raided, the site was up again with the help of volunteers around the world.
  • In 2009, three co-founders of the site and a financier were convicted of assisting copyright infringement. After an appeal in 2010, they were jailed for between four and 12 months and fined a total of 46 million Swedish kronor (S$8.7 million).