Authorities seek safeguards in court proceedings as movie studios go after illegal downloaders

Hollywood studios are trying to get details on people who illegally downloaded Queen Of The Desert (pictured, starring Nicole Kidman and James Franco), and Fathers & Daughters.
Hollywood studios are trying to get details on people who illegally downloaded Queen Of The Desert (pictured, starring Nicole Kidman and James Franco), and Fathers & Daughters. PHOTO: ATLAS DISTRIBUTION

SINGAPORE - The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) and the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) are asking local courts to implement safeguards in proceedings involving the release of telco subscribers' details, they said in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 20).

Hollywood studios QOTD Film Investment and Voltage Pictures - the latter acting through Fathers & Daughters Nevada LLC - are trying to get Singapore telcos to release the details of subscribers who illegally downloaded the Nicole Kidman film Queen Of The Desert, and Fathers & Daughters, which stars Russell Crowe.

Ipos and the AGC said in their statement that they have reviewed the positions taken in similar cases in other jurisdictions such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

They found that courts there imposed certain safeguards before granting the request for subscriber details to be released.

If allowed to intervene in the court proceedings, Ipos and the AGC will be asking for similar safeguards and conditions to be put in place in Singapore.

Ipos also said that members of the public who are affected by such court proceedings can sign up for complimentary clinics to receive preliminary legal advice from lawyers in private law firms.

The Straits Times reported earlier in August that Ipos and the AGC were considering intervening in the High Court proceedings.

In August, the AGC sent a letter to local law firm Samuel Seow Law Corp, which is representing the studios and which previously handled Voltage Pictures' attempt to get the particulars of telco subscribers who illegally downloaded the film Dallas Buyers Club.

The AGC asked for information on the amount of damages the studios are seeking and how they arrived at the amount.

The AGC said then that it was contemplating stepping in so as to ensure that there was no abuse of process, such as if lawyers breached ethical guidelines by carrying a threat of criminal proceedings.