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Man convicted over copyrighted works escapes jail on appeal

SINGAPORE — The first person prosecuted for possessing articles specifically adapted for making infringing copies of a copyrighted work escaped an eight-week jail term after a successful appeal to the High Court yesterday.

SINGAPORE — The first person prosecuted for possessing articles specifically adapted for making infringing copies of a copyrighted work escaped an eight-week jail term after a successful appeal to the High Court yesterday.

Low Meng Guan, 40, who is now a project coordinator, was instead fined S$10,000 for the offence under the Copyright Act.

He had run a business at People’s Park Complex where he peddled modified PlayStation (PS) game consoles and offered the illegal service of copying infringing copies of computer programs to customers.

When the police raided the business in December 2011, Low was caught in possession of a PS2 game console modification chip and memory devices that stored modification software and copies of library programs and game software.

His lawyer, Mr Mervyn Tan, argued that the sentence imposed on his client had been “manifestly excessive” and that he was “merely a small-time operator” who had “succumbed to temptation” to sell such items because of financial difficulties.

He also said Low had an “unblemished” record with no antecedents and that a jail term for a first offender in this instance would be “unduly harsh” and that a fine would suffice.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Wong Woon Kwong countered that Low had run a “sophisticated operation”. He also showed a “clear disregard for the law” by “brazenly offering” illegal services to the general public in a retail shop.

DPP Wong, who had previously sought a sentence of three months’ jail, said Low’s wilful acts on a “larger scale” damaged the Republic’s efforts to move towards becoming an intellectual property hub and that a deterrent sentence should be meted out.

Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, who presided over the hearing, allowed the appeal. He noted that this was Low’s first offence and that he had cooperated fully with the authorities.

Low could have been jailed up to two years and fined up to S$20,000. Ashley Chia

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