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High Court ruling against pirated football broadcasting sets crucial precedent, says Astro

As the World Cup fever begins to heat up in Malaysia, the High Court here has made a landmark ruling which sets a precedent that it is illegal for commercial premises to broadcast contents from unauthorised sources.

In a statement on Thursday (Nov 24), Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd said the Kuala Lumpur High Court has ruled that a local commercial premise had acted illegally by showing pirated broadcasts of sports and entertainment contents — including Premier League football.

“The directors of 42 East Pub and Restaurants in KL were showing contents in their premises without a legitimate commercial broadcast subscription to Astro,” the group said.

Astro added that this ruling follows recent amendments to the Copyright Act 2022, which strengthened legislation around copyright infringement and empowered authorities to act against those selling illegal streaming devices and illegal website operators.

According to Astro, the court’s ruling set a crucial precedent that it is illegal for commercial premises to show contents from unauthorised sources — whether pirated foreign channels or Astro broadcasts without the appropriate licence.

“Future legal actions could lead to significant financial and legal consequences for anyone found to be showing infringing contents in their commercial premises,” Astro said.

Astro group chief executive officer-designate Euan Smith said the group welcomes the ruling, which has set a legal precedent for copyright infringement as piracy hurts the group’s ability to serve sports fans and commercial enterprises.

“It damages the income of the entire content creation industry, reduces the amount of tax being received by the government to support the Malaysian economy, and puts food and beverage owners at risk of serious financial penalties.”

Smith said Astro is committed to working closely with the authorities, industry players as well as the Premier League in battling piracy and in encouraging commercial enterprises to only watch live sports on legal and high-quality platforms.

Meanwhile, Premier League general counsel Kevin Plumb said the decision makes it very clear that anyone showing pirate contents in a commercial premises is breaking the law.

“The Premier League works closely with Astro and Malaysian law authorities, to take action against piracy and help educate fans — we want to ensure they can come together to watch and enjoy Premier League contents in the best quality via legitimate sources,” he said.

Currently, Premier League football is on a break to make way for the 2022 Fifa World Cup, which kicked off on Nov 20.

At the time of writing, shares in Astro gained one sen or 1.49% to 68 sen, giving the group a market capitalisation of RM3.55 billion. Theedgemarkets

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