Friday, August 24, 2007

A brief respite for now

Taken from TODAY newspaper, 24 August 2007, Friday

To read at the original website click here.

Still, we must wait 2 weeks to see whether ODEX will appeal...

Odex loses case against PacNet
ISP need not reveal names of alleged anime freeloaders

Ansley Ng

IN a surprise ruling that throws a new twist into the ongoing Odex saga, a court has ruled that Pacific Internet (PacNet) does not have to release the names of its subscribers accused of ripping content from the anime distributor.

The decision has raised some eyebrows because two other Internet service providers (ISPs) - SingNet and StarHub - had earlier been ordered to reveal the identities of their subscribers accused of a similar violation.

In a closed-door hearing at the Subordinate Courts yesterday, District Judge Ernest Lau ruled that PacNet did not have to give up the names of about 1,000 subscribers who were accused of illegally downloading Odex's anime - Japanese cartoon and animation - series.

It was not clear if Odex would appeal against Mr Lau's decision. Odex co-director Peter Go did not return telephone calls.

The judgment surprised observers and those who were served letters of demand by Odex.

"You're kidding," said lawyer Siew Kum Hong. "You would expect the outcome of the three cases to be the same."

The Nominated Member of Parliament added: "StarHub and SingNet users are now likely to start asking questions, and we can also expect Odex to appeal."

StarHub spokeswoman Jeannie Ong said the company was assessing its options.

"We don't know the specific situation under which the judge in PacNet's appeal ruled in their favour. It was a different judge handling their case," she said.

A SingNet spokesman told Today that the telco had provided Odex with the names only after the firm produced a court order "and served it on us".

Since May, Odex has been cracking down on freeloaders and was successful in getting SingNet and StarHub to reveal the identities of customers who downloaded its anime illegally.

The company, which is the main anime distributor here, subsequently served legal letters on the freeloaders - many of them teenagers - reportedly demanding payments of between $3,000 and $5,000.

While the law appeared to be on Odex's side, the company's tough action has angered some users. Its other director, Mr Stephen Sing, has reportedly received death threats from angry anime fans.

There were also criticisms from observers that Odex's monetary demand from the freeloaders was excessive. But in a letter to the media, Odex said that the settlements it is seeking are not for damages, but "reimbursement" of expenses incurred "in pursuing these enforcement matters".

Meanwhile, an Indonesian woman, whose teenage nephew was issued a letter by Odex to pay a sum of up to $5,000, is meeting Odex representatives today.

"I have spoken to several lawyers who have all asked me to pay the money and settle the case," she said. "The question now is 'how much' because $5,000 is too much."

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