Call his bluff

Bloged in Life, Generally by Mel Wednesday August 29, 2007

Found from another blog a copy of the letter which ODEX apparently sent to an anime downloader, which at paragraph 3 states :

Please note that the infringement of copyright may constitute a criminal offense (sic), which are (sic) punishable upon conviction by fines of up to $10,000 per infringing article and / or imprisonment of 5 years.

This doesn’t strike me as entirely honest.  Section 136(2) of the Copyright Act provides that :

(2) A person who at a time when copyright subsists in a work has in his possession or imports into Singapore any article which he knows, or ought reasonably to know, to be an infringing copy of the work for the purpose of —

  (a) selling, letting for hire, or by way of trade offering or exposing for sale or hire, the article;

  (b) distributing the article for the purpose of trade, or for any other purpose to an extent that will affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright in the work; or

  (c) by way of trade exhibiting the article in public,

shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 for the article or for each article in respect of which the offence was committed or $100,000, whichever is the lower, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or to both.

Quite apart from the issue of whether ODEX has a right of civil action against downloaders, the Act provides that the mere downloading of an infringing copy is not a criminal offence; the offender must furthermore have carried out one or more of the acts in (a), (b) or (c) (eg. selling, renting out or distributing).  If the mere downloading did indeed constitute a criminal offence, ODEX could have just filed a police report, and let the authorities take it from there.  For reasons best known to itself, it did not.

——- Postscript ——-

Although mere downloading would not be a criminal offence under section 136(2) of the Copyright Act, section 136(3A) makes wilful infringement (which would include reproduction through downloading) an offence where the extent of the infringement is significant (or where the infringer does the act to obtain a commercial advantage).  Penalty : maximum $20,000 fine and / or 6 months jail.

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