AGC and IPOS move to ensure copyright holders do not abuse process


The story so far: Last year, lawyers had issued letters threatening criminal proceedings, fines, and prison, against Internet users who they accused of pirating the film Dallas Buyers Club. We (Internet Society Singapore Chapter) formally complained to the Law Society of Singapore that these threats are not allowed under the Law Society’s Practice Directions here. These Internet users are innocent until proven guilty and should be allowed to use the Internet without fear –  details  at this page

The Law Society reviewed the claim and directed that the lawyers “should be given a warning, reprimand or order to pay a penalty of not more than S$10,000” – details at this page

This year, lawyers representing the same rights owners started legal proceedings in respect of two more films, Queen Of The Desert and Fathers And Daughters, and applied to Court to make ISP’s disclose identities linked to Internet protocol (IP) addresses. This is despite recent cases that have ruled that IP addresses do not sufficiently identify which individuals committed copyright infringement, but may belong to innocent home or business owners. Therefore we wrote an op-ed in The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline ‘Don’t punish innocent Internet users

Now, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) are applying to the courts to intervene in these proceedings to ensure a fair process, which may include reviewing the letters of demand to prevent abusive practices

“Abusive practices include “speculative invoicing”, also known as “copyright trolling”, where a party pursues quick settlements from alleged copyright infringers, by launching legal action against them and taking advantage of their reluctance to pursue their rights fully before the courts, said IPOS.”

You can read the full details published in TODAY news, Authorities move to ensure illegal downloaders get fair processalthough we respectfully suggest that the headline could be ‘Authorities move to ensure copyright owners do not abuse innocent Internet users’

The Internet Society (Singapore) has played a modest role in this, as noted in the article

“[Last year] the Internet Society (Singapore) filed a complaint with the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc), alleging that [the lawyers] had issued letters threatening criminal proceedings against the alleged downloaders, to advance the civil claims. This goes against the LawSoc’s Practice Directions and Rulings Guide … In May, LawSoc said it was taking action against two lawyers over their conduct in dealing with illegal downloaders of Dallas Buyers Club … Intellectual property lawyers who spoke to TODAY welcomed it as a move to ensure a fair process.”

We will continue to watch this case closely and we welcome your feedback as Internet users.