Piracy site Solarmovie to be blocked

Singapore Internet service providers have been told to disable access to movie download website Solarmovie.ph.
Singapore Internet service providers have been told to disable access to movie download website Solarmovie.ph.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM WEBSITE

A trade association representing major US film studios has fired the opening salvo in its war on piracy websites, with Solarmovie.ph the first to be blocked under Singapore's recently amended Copyright Act.

Internet users here will lose access to the website by March 17, following the Singapore High Court's order last Thursday to Internet service providers Singtel, StarHub, M1, MyRepublic and ViewQwest to block the site. All the ISPs said they would comply by then.

The site, which features the latest US superhero film Deadpool and animated film Kung Fu Panda 3, was found to be "flagrantly infringing" intellectual property, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) said in a statement yesterday.

Singapore's amended Copyright Act, which took effect in December 2014, lets content owners seek a High Court order for ISPs to block piracy websites. Before the revised law, they could not compel ISPs to block pirated content.

The MPA's six member studios - Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures Industries, Disney Enterprises, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros - filed the High Court application in December last year.

The Straits Times understands that if website owners do not contest the application, the courts could take just two months to order ISPs to block the objectionable site.

Said Mr Mike Ellis, the MPA's Asia-Pacific president and managing director: "It is important that the creative industries are able to work via Singapore's High Court to take a reasonable step forward to limit content theft...

"Piracy websites not only stifle the growth of legal online platforms for movies and television shows, they may also pose a risk of malware infection."

Access to Solarmovie.ph - which had 2.2 million unique visitors last month, according to Compete.com - has also been blocked in the United Kingdom.

Other popular piracy sites include The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents.

Ms Chong Li Min, senior lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic, said: "This first successful court order to block a pirate website shows Singapore's commitment to the creative community and its strong stance against sites that flagrantly infringe copyright, in line with the UK and other European countries."

However, lawyer Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay said he was surprised that the MPA did not go after The Pirate Bay first.

"It was, after all, given as an example when the amendment to the law was introduced, and should be a lot more popular than Solarmovie.ph," said Mr Tan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2016, with the headline 'Piracy site Solarmovie to be blocked'. Print Edition | Subscribe