Odex and AVPAS: Singapore twins?
Every day, I find that the world is odder than I ever could have thought. Here is something odd for you - a challenge if you like. Go to http://www.whois.domaintools.com/ and use their tool to look up odex.com.sg and avpas.com.sg
You don't have to do this if you don't want to - or are too lazy to - for I am about to tell you what you will find out. You will discover the oddest twist in the tale of copyright woes presently unfolding in Singapore.
First, perhaps I should explain what AVPAS is. It is the Anti-Video Piracy Association of Singapore. This body was founded with the ostensibly laudable purpose of waging war against video piracy - in particular to protect the rights of Japanese anime cartoon producers, here, in Singapore. There seems to be nothing wrong with that. However, who, exactly is waging war?
Odex is the Singaporean distributor of Japanese anime cartoons that is presently trying to sue anyone caught downloading anime, off the internet, for free. This includes customers of Pacific Net, Starhub and Singtel.
If you have looked up the two organizations you may have noted something really, really strange. Both Odex and AVPAS share the same administrative contact address in Singapore. That is: Odex Pte Ltd, 10 Anson Road, #22-11, International Plaza, Singapore 079903
Now, I ask you, does that sound like an independent organization to you?
This makes the recent court decision almost darkly humourous. You see the Judge, Ernest Lau, in this case declined to allow Odex to win access to the identities of those Pacific Net subscribers who downloaded its titles, for several reasons. One of those reasons - a key reason - is that he did not believe that Odex was the right party to seek redress in this matter. His reasoning was that Odex was just a distributor with various licensed rights from the Japanese anime producers (some as sub-licensee, at least one as exclusive licensee - for Mobile Suit Gundam Seed) and he was unprepared to allow their action because they were not the actual producers of the Japanese anime cartoons. He did, however, indicate that he could accept that they were authorized to act on behalf of the Japanese anime producers - and then allow the action. However, he declined to accept this because he noted that, of the 13 letters that supported Odex's right to act on behalf of the Japanese anime producers, only 3 of them appointed Odex directly (and these were not producers, but distributors). The other 10 had appointed AVPAS, the Anti-Video Piracy Association of Singapore to act on their behalf! That is hilarious. It seems that the guys behind Odex may have been a little too clever for themselves. As I understand it, they contend that AVPAS had appointed them to seek redress on behalf of the Japanese anime producers. But, as the coincidence of addresses noted above indicates - it is altogether possible - indeed probable -that AVPAS and Odex share more than an address in common. It could easily be a case of Odex appointing themselves to seek address, under the guise of "AVPAS".
Thus, it seems, from all the written evidence in the records at whois, that Odex gave itself the air of authority by getting the backing of AVPAS (no doubt this was easy, since they share an address). Furthermore, the Japanese anime producers authorized AVPAS to act on their behalf, as stated in the letters of evidence. However, the Judge rejected Odex's case on the basis that AVPAS had authorization - yes - and that would have been acceptable - but ODEX DID NOT.
I am not a follower of legal cases in general, but all this strikes me as darkly funny, if AVPAS and ODEX are in fact one and the same, which the evidence suggests is not only possible, but probable.
You see, if Odex and AVPAS are the same people, then Odex did, in effect, have authorization and their claim should have been allowed. Yet, because of the distinction drawn between AVPAS and Odex - intentionally, no doubt - by the people behind Odex, their claim could not be allowed - because the direct permission to act was between the Japanese anime producers and AVPAS - and not between Odex and those same producers.
This all goes to show that, in business, as in life, it is almost always better to be straightforward - because those complications can really get to you, in the end.
I must apologize to my regular readers for blogging more than once about the case - but it is uppermost in the minds of many Singaporeans and my research turned up some interesting information. Thanks for your patience.