53 Pirate Sites Blocked in Singapore

Singapore ISPs have blocked 53 pirate websites after a successful application by the MPAA, which accused the sites of blatant copyright infringement.

In 2014 Singapore passed amendments to copyright law that grant ISPs to block ‘pirate’ sites after mounting pressure from copyright holders.

The amendments came into effect in December 2014, but it was not until later that websites were targeted. In September 2016 following MPAA request, Solarmovie.ph became the first site ordered to be blocked under Singapore’s amended Copyright Act.

Owing to a successful application by the MPAA earlier this year, yesterday 53 sites across 154 domains have been blocked by ISPs rendering them inaccessible.

“In Singapore, these sites are responsible for a major portion of copyright infringement of films and television shows,” an MPAA spokesperson told The Straits Times (paywall).

The High Court, however, cannot grant a block injunction on any site without first proving the site is “flagrantly infringing”. YouTube is an example of non-blatant infringement.

The judgment should be tipped in copyright holders’ favor for sites to be considered for blocking.

There are also additional factors the Court takes into consideration when deciding to block a site like ISPs burden, technical feasibility, and its effectiveness.

In line with regions such as the UK and Australia, sites targeted for blocking needs to be informed of the case made against them, to make sure they’re given a chance to defend themselves in court. Not a single fully-fledged ‘pirate’ site has ever defended itself against a blocking application anywhere in the world.

Finally, copyright holders can apply for amendment of blocking order to the Singapore High Court should ‘pirate’ sites try to evade an ISP blockade. It is similar to the Australian model where each case must be heard on its merits, unlike the UK model which is more streamlined.

Recent Reports by Motion Picture Association Canada states at least 42 countries have obligations to block infringing sites. Just in Europe, 1,800 websites and 5,300 domains have been rendered inaccessible, with Portugal, Italy, the UK, and Denmark leading the way.

Copyright holders in Canada are lobbying hard for a site-blocking regime as they want to the “uncertain, slow and expensive” way of going through the courts.

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