Odex Case - a Summary

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  • Topic: Appeal, Singapore Press Holdings, European Court of Justice
  • Pages : 5 (2273 words )
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  • Published : September 4, 2008
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Odex is a Singapore-based company that licenses and releases anime for local and regional (Southeast Asian) consumption. It was registered in 1998, for the purpose of licensing and importing overseas drama and animation into Singapore, which it began distributing in 2000 (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 2008) . In 2007, Odex caused uproar among anime fans, when it decided to crack down on illegal anime downloading . Anime is animation originating from Japan which has recently become widely popular among the non-japanese speaking population in Asia. Prior to the 1990s, anime had limited exposure beyond Japan's borders. However, the Internet has played a significant role in the exposure of anime beyond Japan . Since May 2007, Odex, has sent out letters to alleged downloaders demanding settlement sums of S$3,000 to S$5,000 . ODEX obtained records from ISPs in order to detect and track down local internet users who used their accounts to download anime illegally. Adopting the RIAA style lawsuits as implemented by the US recording industry to track down illegal file sharing/ downloading, ODEX hired a US-based company, BayTSP to track down the IP addresses of the illegal downloaders who used BitTorrent in Singapore (MIRANDAH, 2005) .

Odex vs Singnet
Odex won court orders in early 2007 to get SingNet to disclose names of subscribers allegedly downloading anime. In May, Odex went after SingNet subscribers accusing them of illegally downloading anime. Anyone who received the letter by registered mail could contact the company for an out-of-court settlement within a week, or Odex would proceed to sue. In addition, the downloaders were also made to sign a non-disclosure agreement that he or she would destroy all copies of the downloaded anime and not continue any further downloading. Odex vs Starhub

In Aug 2007, the a Subordinate Court ordered StarHub to disclose the identity of about 1,000 of its subscribers accused of illegally downloading anime. StarHub had initially resisted the company's efforts to get its customer data, said a spokesman for the telco, as it had "an obligation to protect our customers' information." But it now had no choice but to comply with the court order, as Odex had "satisfied the court of its need for the information." Odex vs PacNet

On 23 August 2007, the Subordinate Court denied Odex’s appeal for PacNet to release its subscriber’s IP addresses. The court ruled that Odex had to prove an "extremely strong prima facie case”, as Pacnet owed its subscribers a duty of confidentiality under the Telecommunications Competition Code, and hence the court would not grant the order unless Odex could satisfy that burden of proof. Based on the evidence provided to the court, Odex failed to prove such an "extremely strong prima facie case". Therefore, Odex failed in its application. In contrast to the SingNet and Starhub cases, the judge noted that 'for the SingNet case, the orders were made by consent'. This meant that Singnet had consented to Odex's application for the court order and so there were no arguments before the court. The judge also noted that Starhub had resisted the application, but their lawyers did not make the same arguments that Pacnet's lawyers did, so presumably the court hearing Starhub's case did not consider those issues. On 3 January 2008, Odex filed an appeal to the High Court for the case to be reheard.

Aftermath and Repercussions
There was a public relations backlash against Odex. The company's crackdown led to a public outcry, including death threats against director Stephen Sing, an anti-Odex T-shirt campaign, and an online flaming war . Many felt that Odex was being unfair in not sending any warnings and heavy-handed in targeting teenagers . They were also incensed when company director Sing made comments on an online forum ‘gloating’ over his company’s actions . Some also expressed their opinion that Odex products were of low quality and overpriced....
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