Love streaming pirated stuff on your Android box? It's going to be illegal in S'pore soon.

No more watching shows way earlier than your friends.

Jonathan Lim | January 17, 2019, 05:12 PM

Android boxes have been a popular way for Singaporeans to access shows and movies without having to pay for them from service providers like Singtel or Netflix.

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Android boxes are devices that come installed with the Android operating system and some basic storage.

By itself, it does not contain any illegally downloaded content, at least at the point of sale.

Thus, the sale of these boxes are not considered illegal at the moment.

In a way, the boxes are just like your Android mobile phones -- a piece of electronic hardware running the Android OS.

However, the boxes allow users to download apps which in turn enable them to pirate shows.

In some cases, users will have to pay for a subscription to these apps.

However, the owners of the apps are not the copyright holders of the content they are sharing with users.

Soon to be illegal

Following a three-year review of the Copyright Act and accepting close to 100 formal submissions and 280 online feedback forms, the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) will soon be making amendments to it.

MinLaw will introduce a slew of changes including one that will specifically target set-top boxes that enable the illegal streaming and the downloading of content.

MinLaw said that it will introduce new legislative provisions that will impose "civil and criminal liability on people who wilfully make, import for sale, commercially distribute or sell" devices that enable access to content from unauthorised sources.

It will also impose civil and criminal liability on people who provide paid services helping users access illegal content.

Such services include providing instructions or installation of subscription services or giving users website links that aid them in accessing illegal content.

MinLaw also said it was "mindful that any new provisions should not be overly broad" such that the sale of multi-purpose devices such as mobile phones and computers would be affected.

It said that "retailers of such 'general' devices should not be made responsible for how purchasers set up and use such devices".

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