Malaysian Police Crack Down on Movie Piracy Site


Officers from the cyber crime unit of the Royal Malaysian Police arrested a 27-year-old man on Wednesday for hosting links to illegal downloads on the popular local message board and file-sharing site, SYOK.org.

According to the police, the suspect, who is from the city of Kulim, is believed to be the operator of SYOK.org, which counts registered users in the hundreds of thousands (according to the website’s own Facebook page). In order to participate on the forum, users must register a username and password.

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Among the downloads the suspect allegedly hosted are recent high-profile Hollywood titles including, Sky Fall, Life of Pi, Jack Reacher, Argo, and more – some of which are still on release in the region.

“This successful action puts other websites on due notice that the authorities will take every measure to investigate and prosecute those involved with the illegal uploading and sharing of films and television shows,” said Norman Abdul Halim, honorary secretary of the Malaysian Film Producers’ Association, after the arrest. “I know that many colleagues throughout the screen community will be pleased with this outcome, as it represents an important step to further protecting their creative work from being shared online without their permission.”

If convicted, the suspect faces fines of $650 to $6,500 for each illegal copy he uploaded, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years -- or both.

In May 2012, Malaysia was removed from the U.S. government’s “priority” watch list of countries committing egregious violations of intellectual property rights. Mayalsia is now on the government’s so-called “lower level” watch list, which comprises country’s that could be included among those considered to have a clean record, should they make further efforts in preventing copyright violations and intellectual property theft.

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“Rogue websites present a major threat to the ability of filmmakers to conduct a sustainable film business, employ people in production, distribution and exhibition, and deliver quality films and television shows to audiences," said Mike Ellis, president of the Motion Picture Association in Asia-Pacific. “This action by the Royal Malaysian Police sends a clear message to operators of such websites and we look forward to working with them to crackdown on more such cases.”

The Malaysia arrest comes after a similar crackdown in Japan on Sunday, where officers from the Saitama Prefecture police department's cyber crime division arrested a 45-year-old man in Tokyo for uploading copyrighted movies to video hosting website FC2 Video.

FC2 Video ranks behind just Yahoo Japan and Google in the rankings of Japan’s most popular websites, according to Alexa, an Internet analytics company that provides commercial web traffic data (Alexa calculates popularity by combining the number of unique daily visitors with page views over the preceding three months). FC2 Video is also the 37th most popular website in the world, by Alexa's rankings. 

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According to Tokyo police, the suspect uploaded several feature-length movies, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Descendants. Police say he has admitted to the charges and faces up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $109,000 (10 million yen) under Japan’s Copyright Act.
 

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