Malaysia's updated copyright law imprisons streaming pirates for up to 20 years

The country is closing a copyright gap with strict measures.

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Illegal streaming could be particularly costly in Malaysia. TorrentFreak reports the country has passed amendments to its Copyright Act that punish those who enable pirate streaming. People who offer streaming services and devices that "prejudicially" hurt copyright owners can face fines equivalent to $2,377 or more, prison sentences up to 20 years, or both.

The updated law also discourages companies from either participating in streaming piracy or tolerating its presence. Unless managers can show they were unaware of a violation and took "all due diligence" to stop such acts, they'll be considered guilty of the relevant crime.

Copyright laws worldwide frequently cover digital piracy, but some of them were designed to tackle downloads and other, older forms of bootlegging. That was a problem for Malaysia, which couldn't use the Copyright Act against people selling piracy-oriented streaming devices until a High Court decision allowed those cases.

The potential punishments are strict, and the wording suggests it may be difficult for some companies to avoid entanglements with rogue employees. How much diligence is necessary, for example? Still, this shows how some countries may specifically address streaming through legislation, and might please the US and other copyright-driven nations worried their neighbors might tolerate illegal internet services.