Dallas Buyers Club Saga
Many of us know well the “Dallas Buyers Club” saga that rocked our nation in 2015. Voltage Pictures targeted the Singaporean market when it was trying to clamp down on the infringers who appeared to have illegally downloaded copies of its Oscar-winning film. 3 major Internet service providers, namely Singtel, Starhub and M1, ordered by the court to disclose customer details of people who have downloaded the film over the Internet. Voltage Pictures then demanded compensation from these infringers.
While most people would think twice before stealing a car, the same consideration is not given when it comes to downloading a song or a movie. With today’s media and intellectual property (IP) laws in place, downloading a movie off the Internet is akin to stealing someone else’s property.
So, when is it legal to download a movie?
It depends. Downloaders should check if the website they are viewing or have downloaded the movie from has actually acquired the rights to commercialise or distribute the media through a license.
Crunchy Roll obtains rights to provide online streaming
A shining example would be Crunchy Roll, a US-based website focused on streaming videos of Asian anime and manga entertainment. They have committed to removing all copyright-infringing material from its website and only hosting content which it has legitimate distribution rights to.
Crunchy Roll has launched two very successful business models that businesses providing media content to the public can all learn from. The site offers both an ad-free streaming service, and an ad-supported one. For its ad-supported streaming, Crunchy Roll shares its ad revenues with the media’s rights owners. They also offer a subscription-based service for ad-free streaming. The site is then able to provide share this revenue with the respective rights owners.
Copyrights have a limited period of protection
Alternatively, it may also be worthy to note that films and songs have limited periods of protection. Copyrights for media content such as movies and music are protected for a period of 70 years in Singapore, starting from the end of the year of its release. Once this term has expired, they will cease to be protected under the copyrights act. This is also why you are able to find numerous old films being uploaded and allowed on Youtube – they have simply expired their term of copyrights protection.