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The Battle Against TV Piracy in South Africa

The Battle Against TV Piracy in South Africa

Everyone pays a price for media piracy and it has become one of the major problems in South Africa. Downloading and illegal access to movies and television has been consistently increasing over the last number of years. While television is the highest in consumer spending, the net comes in second.

A report done by Price Waterhouse Cooper’s Entertainment & Media Outlook (2015-2019) indicates that over the next five years we will see surges in smart devices, with smartphone connections nearing a double increase from 22.8 million in 2014 to 52.3 million in 2019; tablet devices will increase from 2.6 million to 5.6 million over the same time and mobile internet will rise 32% from 2014 to 2019, achieving 69.1%.

Revenue from consumer spending on television subscriptions and licensing fees, video games and filmed entertainment is around R4.8 billion and this number reflects the vast increase in video-based content. Piracy of any of these venues wreaks havoc as the costs ultimately end up being spread out to those consumers and businesses that comply with legal payments.

Thus the organisation of SAFACT enters the realm to not only address the problem of piracy, but combat it. The Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft, Limited by Guarantee is a section 21 registered non-profit. It represents individual owners and/or rights holders of the copyright in film, home entertainment and interactive games. It was established and registered in 2001 and represents the major Hollywood studios under the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), UIP distributors (United International Pictures), Times Media Distribution, Ster Kinekor Home Entertainment, Multichoice, Crustal Brook, Indigenous Films, MNET, Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe (PlayStation), and publishing companies such as Juta, Van Schaik, Oxford University Press, Troupant, Lexis Nexis, Macmillan, NB Publishers and Exam Fever.

SAFACT has positioned itself as the main factor in battling copyright infringement. Their use of a number of technical measures such as active utilisation of searching and detection infrastructure has allowed them to detect and remove both local and abroad infringing links. Through a sophisticated monitoring ability, SAFACT aims for a goal to take down the number of websites and services that are piracy-centric and they have been successful with the takedown of three locally operated sites that downloaded stolen services.

SAFACT makes use of controls for both local and international infringement through the use of a few technology methods. The primary method is organised into a category of index filtering via IP address denial or blocking. A secondary method is URL (Uniform Resource Locator) based filtering and a third method is DNS blacklisting.

An alternative to site blocking is called Graduated Response aka “three strikes” and is used with peer-to-peer software. It monitors consumer disconnects after a number of letters of notification for warning that they are involved in copyright infringement. This process was introduced in France and led to a decline of peer-to-peer piracy (P2P) by 26% with nearing two million of these users ceasing activity after warning notices were first sent.

SAFACT has been engaged in awareness campaigns with a number of areas including government agencies such as CIPC (Companies and Intellectual Property Commission), FPB (Films and Publications Board) as well as the police and other authorities. They have held discussion panels and appeared on film festivals and radio interviews as well as sent out press releases to get the public involved in knowing the price and cost of media piracy.

“Da Vinci Forensics assists in the spread of information regarding media piracy and the legal ramifications for those that are involved. Historically this behaviour has escalated to the point where many are unaware that piracy is theft and intrudes on not only cost, but the potential for data security intrusion. Our goal is to educate and spread the information so that companies as well as their staff are familiarised with the ways that piracy affects everyone and the price that is paid when those that are caught are prosecuted.”

Da Vinci Forensics