Odex softens on illegal downloaders

Singapore-based anime distributor still bent on clamping down on piracy, but decides to adopt a less harsh method of stopping illegal downloading.

SINGAPORE--Singapore anime distributor Odex has decided to take a more light-handed approach than what was originally adopted to curb illegal downloading.

Odex said today that instead of issuing legal letters, it will first send a warning notice via e-mail to those who illegally download its content.

Those who respond to the e-mail by clicking on the 'yes' button and agreeing to Odex's terms--such as to stop subsequent downloads and delete infringing content off their hard drives--will have their IP addresses taken off the offenders' list. However, those, who agree to the terms but resume downloading, will be marked as repeat offenders.

Explaining the company's change of heart, Odex Managing Director Peter Go said in a statement: "We want to be fair to those who may not realize that downloading our licensed content is a violation of Singapore copyright law."

Odex will need the cooperation of local ISPs to send the e-mail warnings out. The anime content distributor is currently in talks with several ISPs, though it has not confirmed their cooperation.

Despite the recent public outcry at its actions, Odex is not letting up on its anti-piracy drive.

Odex Director Stephen Sing told ZDNet Asia in an interview: "As long as there are downloaders in Singapore, we won't stop."

Citing illegal downloads as the primary reason for the decline in anime sales, Sing said that there will be "no more anime industry in five to 10 years" if illegal downloading continues at this rate and goes unchecked.

Odex receives weekly reports from BayTSP, a company contracted to monitor and produce lists of infringing IP addresses belonging to those who transfer illegal versions of content to which Odex owns the licensing rights.

BayTSP Chief Operating Officer Evelyn Espinosa is confident that the warning notices will have an impact on downloading figures. She said: "We've found that in other cases we've handled, there's been an 85 percent non-recidivism rate--where people will stop when they've been warned."

Since Odex's Sep. 3 press conference, Sing said, the company has received settlement fees from 10 individuals. No warning letters have been sent out since.

Odex's appeal against the court ruling that prevented it from obtaining the user details to Pacific Internet's subscribers is scheduled to be heard before the High Court on Oct. 3.

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