AGC appeals against 'excessive' sentences meted out to Android box retailer and its director

Synnex Trading was ordered to pay a fine of $160,800, and its director Jia Xiaofeng was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail and fined $5,400.
Synnex Trading was ordered to pay a fine of $160,800, and its director Jia Xiaofeng was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail and fined $5,400.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has appealed to the High Court against the "excessive" sentences meted out by the State Courts to a retailer and its director for infringing copyright involving the sale of Android TV boxes.

On Wednesday (Oct 30), Synnex Trading was ordered to pay a fine of $160,800, and its director Jia Xiaofeng was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail and fined $5,400.

In a statement on Thursday, the AGC said: "The AGC has learnt that part of the sentencing submissions made in the State Court was erroneous, in that it relied on a previous decision of the State Courts which had been overruled.

“The sentences imposed may thus have been excessive.”

It added that private prosecutors made a mistake in their sentencing submissions. Court papers show that law firm Wong & Leow represented the content publishers and pay-TV operators.

Jia had pleaded guilty to four criminal charges for copyright infringement through the sale of add-on services that help consumers to access pirated content as well as Android TV boxes loaded with apps for the same purpose.

These apps provided unauthorised access to programmes including English Premier League matches, movies and National Geographic documentaries on Fox's cable channels.

The charges also touched on 104 media boxes specifically adapted for making copies of the copyrighted content in 2017 at Synnex's Geylang Road shop.

 
 

Synnex and Jia were dragged to court in January 2018 by pay-TV operators Singtel and StarHub, and Fox Networks Group and the Premier League.

Trading firm An-Nahl and its director Abdul Nagib Abdul Aziz were taken to court at the same time. Abdul Nagib pleaded guilty to one criminal charge of copyright infringement and wasfined $1,200 in April this year.

Android media set-top boxes are widely sold in Sim Lim Square and are also available at top electronics stores, and many often come preloaded with apps that stream content from different online sources including Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. They go for as little as $200 apiece.

Jia, described in court papers as "the controlling mind of Synnex",  sold an Android TV box for between $369 and $469, and provided a subscription service to pirated content for $95 a year. He was said to have "obtained a commercial advantage" through the sale of the illicit boxes.

Correction note: An earlier version of this story reported that the AGC said law firm Wong & Leow made a mistake in its sentencing submissions. AGC did not identify the law firm. The firm was identified in court papers.