Photo credit: Screenshot from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Keeping pirates at bay

Are Singaporeans taking illegal streaming too lightly?

Yasmeen Farha

Published: 15 September 2017, 12:00 AM

Singapore is making waves in world rankings again, but this time for its high prevalence of illegal streaming. In fact, our island has “changed the face of piracy” with the use of streaming devices, specifically TV boxes.

What’s going on?  

In 2016, MUSO reported that Singapore ranked ninth among the world’s countries for online piracy. It is the only Asian country in the top 10, and placed above other developed markets such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

A separate study conducted by Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) revealed that 40 per cent of Singaporeans actively stream content illegally.


The Game of Thrones’ season seven finale broke all HBO records with 16.5 million viewers,
with a further 120 million streaming it within the first 72 hours of its release.
Photo credit: Youth.SG/Mark Ong


14 per cent of the respondents further admitted to using TV boxes that allow access to all channels without the need to pay subscription fees.

This brings about the question: Is video piracy something we should be worried about?


Even illegal content streaming site Pirate Bay explicitly warns users
that downloading their content is against the law.
Photo credit: Screenshot from Pirate Bay


Television serial enthusiast Sarah Wee, 19, does not see why streaming is a problem.

The polytechnic student said: “I’m still a student, and I don’t have a lot of money and time to waste. Since I have an option that gives me the drama episodes earlier and for free, it’s obvious why I’d choose that over something I have to wait longer and pay for.”

Those who share joint accounts for online services, like Netflix, sometimes struggle to find others who are willing to fork out money for the subscription.

“My friends and I share a Netflix account, and since there are three of us sharing, we each pay about $4 each. The group used to be bigger, but a few of my friends felt that Netflix wasn’t worth paying for, with free options online,” said polytechnic student Richelle Vergara, 18.


Others complained that subscription services are more limited
here than overseas, making them less attractive.
Photo credit: Facebook screenshot


On the other hand, there are Singaporeans who are against piracy, even if it is a convenient option.

Darius Cheung, 19, has never streamed any video illegally online.

The digital and visual effects major from school said: “I am a student who engages with filmmaking; it’s practically my future. It costs up to hundreds of thousands of dollars just to produce one film. Forget profit, how are filmmakers supposed to merely break even if everyone chooses to stream content illegally?”

Freelance photographer Tan Jun Da, 20, shares the same sentiments.

He said: “Piracy hurts independent filmmakers, musicians, app developers and even us photographers, more than established artists. While we strive to earn a living and create a name for the work we do, piracy flushes all our efforts down the drain.

It affects the income we make, and pulls our confidence down along with it. It’ll make us reconsider putting forward our work in the future.”

What’s your take? 

1. Would you pay for content that can be easily streamed online?

Tell us what you think by leaving a comment on our article or social media platforms! Submit the best response by September 29 and win a $10 Coffee Bean voucher.

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