Found in JB pirated discs bust: Database of S’pore buyers. List of names, phone numbers, addresses in shop’s PC to be turned over to police here

A RAID by the Malaysian authorities on a shop in Johor Baru has turned up a list of its Singapore customers, which will be given to the police here.

The customer database containing names, telephone numbers and home addresses was found in a computer seized in the raid.

The shop in Holiday Plaza was busted three weeks ago by DVD-sniffing dogs Flo and Lucky, which belong to the movie industry watchdog Motion Picture Association (MPA). They were, at the time, on loan to the Malaysian authorities.

The list is now still with the MPA. Its senior vice-president Michael Ellis said ‘a lot’ of Singaporeans were on it, and that the list would be given to the police.

The police, when contacted, would say only that they had not received the list.

Shops selling pirated movies here have all but disappeared in the last few years, following a crackdown on syndicates supplying them, said Mr Ellis.

Some Singaporeans now order movies online, call or visit pirated DVD retailers in Johor Baru to place their orders. Runners from these syndicates then smuggle the discs in and deliver them to customers here.

It is illegal under the Films Act to possess uncensored films. The penalty runs up to $100 a film.

Offenders caught with five or more pirated items can also be charged under the Copyright Act, which could bring up to $100,000 in fines and five years in jail – although nobody has yet been charged.

Mr Ellis told reporters at the launch of the MPA’s first Internet piracy education campaign at Maris Stella High School yesterday that enforcement, while necessary, had to be coupled with public education to effect a mindset change.

To this end, he said, the MPA was giving out 200,000 brochures on the risks of illegal downloads and protection of intellectual property rights to schools and libraries.

The principal of Maris Stella, Brother Anthony Tan, added that public education aside, content providers also need to price their products ‘reasonably’ and supply them in the formats their customers want so they will not see the need to visit illegal sites.

Meanwhile, software industry watchdog Business Software Alliance (BSA) will launch a soft-touch anti-piracy programme next week.

Together with regulator Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, the BSA is encouraging companies to sign up for a free, self-administered software audit.

In the audit, the company declares the number of computers, software and licence details it has. If illegal software is found, the company is expected to delete it or get the legitimate version.

On passing the audit, the company gains for itself a one-year exemption from BSA-initiated enforcement action.