Pacnet ordered to turn over customer records

Pacific Internet must hand over to the Japanese copyright holders, its records of subscribers who illegally downloaded anime titles.

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

SINGAPORE--A High Court judge has ordered Internet service provider Pacific Internet (Pacnet), to turn over details of its subscribers who had previously downloaded anime titles illegally.

Justice Woo Bih Li also dismissed Singapore-based anime distributor Odex's previous appeal against a verdict that prevented it access to Pacnet's subscriber records.

Odex last year carried out a series of suits against local ISPs (Internet service providers) in a bid to extract the identities of illegal downloaders--a move it said was necessary to protect the Japanese animation industry.

Although it won its court cases against local ISPs StarHub and SingTel, Odex's suit against Pacnet was overturned in a surprise verdict.

Justice Woo ruled that Odex was not the right party to make the court application. Instead, Pacnet will now have to turn over its subscriber records to the Japanese copyright holders, not Odex.

So far, the six Japanese anime distributors that have joined in the case are Sunrise, Kadokawa Pictures, GDH, TV Tokyo MediaNet, Yomiuri Telecasting and Showgate. Odex said it expects other copyright owners to make "similar applications to the court soon".

A Pacnet spokesperson said: "Pacnet is glad that the court has ruled in favour of us and has dismissed Odex's appeal with costs. We will abide by [the] ruling and provide these copyright owners with the details of about 500 IP addresses."

Odex in August last year assembled representatives from the copyright-holding anime companies for a press conference to display these parties' support for Odex's action against piracy.

Said Odex, of the court ruling: "This ruling in favour of the Japanese copyright owners is a significant boost for us and our principals, as we have always acted for and on behalf of the copyright owners. We are very pleased that Pacnet will now be required to hand over information on the infringing accounts to our copyright owners."

"[This] will now pave the way forward for further enforcement actions by the copyright owners. This decision also shows that those who persist in engaging in illegal downloading of anime programs can no longer use a breach of privacy as a reason to hide behind their ISP."

Pacific Internet recently merged with Asia Netcom to become Pacnet.

Correction: This article previously stated that Odex was granted access to Pacnet's subscriber details. This is incorrect. The verdict was made against Odex, but also ruled that Pacnet has to submit details to the respective Japanese copyright holders. The story has been updated with the changes.