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Internet Piracy in South Africa: The Conditions and Consequences

As the internet continues to become the main source for entertainment, countries around the globe are stepping up to incorporate laws for internet use and access. The problem is that the internet itself is the main culprit for the inability to catch criminals that are involved in cybercrime, and countries such as South Africa may have cybersecurity laws in place, but they are both weak and rarely acted upon. This is changing in some countries as they are locating and arresting developers that are involved in pirated content.

Cybercriminals in South Africa are well aware of the poor cybersecurity laws and their ability to circumvent them. Streaming has become one of the most popular methods of entertainment and since it is a paid service, free streaming is against the law. This doesn’t stop people from trying to find ways to avoid paying and in doing so, the average South African is walking into the traps set by criminals.

Copyright Infringement:

“Any device used to bypass subscription services or to access copyrighted content such as movies, series or sporting events is in contravention of our law and, as such, a criminal offence.” According to the Copyright Act,” no distinction should be drawn between the various forms of copyright infringement. For example, as per section 6(a), the reproduction of a work may appear “in any manner or form.” In other words, if you are streaming you are breaking the same law.

Piracy Consequences

Almost everyone is aware of the music and video piracy announcements. These are established to inform of the laws that dictate personal property and the people and companies that suffer when the entertainment is stolen. However, there are criminals that have circumvented the paying process and in offering free IP and streaming they are not only crossing the legal lines, but are setting individuals up as criminals. Getting free streaming may entice those that are looking for free services, but what they are unaware of is that there are other cybercrimes that they are opening themselves up for.

Cybercriminals make use of VPNs in South Africa because they know there is little enforcement on the weak regulations that have been established. In doing so, they attract users that can sign up and then become victims as they put malware and spyware as part of their local content. Other criminals will create a spoof IP and users take the bait and become trapped in a no-win situation. They can’t report the crime, because it was illegal, and they can’t personally take any action.

Streaming is Illegal

Individuals that both attract and are attracted by illegal streaming are taking a gambling risk at being caught. Compareguru.co.za states:

“The Copyright Act of 1978 protects copyright laws and ensures that people don’t use existing content for monetary gain. The South African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT) protects the intellectual property rights of its members in the Southern African film, home entertainment and interactive games industries. This non-profit organisation regulates copyright infringements in SA and take perpetrators to court.”

Catching You and Punishment

It’s extremely easy to catch anyone that is pirating. Every ISP (Internet Service Provider) has internal monitoring and tracking systems and can see that you are accessing pirated content. Some of the film companies have added protection through the use of anti-piracy software that keeps them from being copied or streamed without permission.

If you get caught pirating, there are a few different punishments and even though you might think the laws aren’t enforced that well, there are hundreds of cases in court. Each time you make an attempt to circumvent the system you take a chance of:

First conviction- you will receive up to a R5 000 fine or 3 years in jail for each item that is distributed

Any time after first conviction you could receive up to a R10 000 fine or 5 years in jail.

“Da Vinci Forensics and CyberEd work with individuals and companies to keep them educated on the severities and consequences that are involved in pirated content. Organisations around the globe are taking steps to increase punishment processes. Updated knowledge and information can help to assure that citizens don’t fall prey to breaking the law or becoming a victim of a cybercriminal, just for some free streaming.

Source: Compare Guru

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