Online Piracy: What happens when you get caught

Illegal downloading using peer-to-peer technologies could result in some hefty fines, or worse, under South African law

By - July 26, 2010
Online Piracy: What happens when you get caught

While the Copyright Act of 1978 makes an outlaw of anyone who has ever ripped a CD they own to their PC or copied a song from their PC to a portable music player, it also protects the rights of artists, authors, software developers and other copyright holders.

But what punishment awaits those who use, watch, or listen to copyrighted material without obtaining a legal license for it first?

If you download content protected by copyright without owning a legal license for it then you’re not a criminal, but the owners of the copyright would have a claim against you for damages, explained Nick Hall, an attorney at Michalsons Attorneys.

Such a claim “will usually amount to the purchase price of the good,” said Hall.

South African law criminalises those who distribute copyrighted content without the permission of the copyright holder.

Selling illegally obtained copyright material is an offence in terms of both the Counterfeit Goods Act as well as the Copyright Act, said Jenna Cuming from Chetty Law.

Hall said that even if your intent isn’t to sell and you distribute such material for free you are guilty of a crime under the Copyright Act. This includes uploading content, even in part, using peer-to-peer (P2P) technologies such as BitTorrent.

Cuming provided the punishments for the crime from the Copyright Act:

  1. In the case of a first conviction you could look at a fine of up to R5000 and/or 3 years imprisonment for each copyrighted item distributed.
  2. In any other case a fine of up to R10 000 and/or up to 5 years jail time per copyrighted item.

Hall added that the criminal punishment is over and above the damages that are payable to copyright holders for illegally copying their material.

Enforcing this law can be tricky, however. The police can’t simply show up at someone’s home to inspect their devices for material that potentially infringes copyright.

Cuming explains that the police would need a search warrant issued by a judge who feels there is reasonable probability that a crime is being committed at the premises.

Online piracy << comments and views

Shutterstock is the image partner of MyBroadband – more technology images

Join the conversation

Connect with Us

androidappletwitterfacebookgoogleplusfeednewsletter

Poll

If South Africa was to have only one capital, which city should it be?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

More News

This is how Anonymous hacked over 200 South African websites

Anonymous

Hackers have defaced hundreds of South African websites hosted with Webafrica.

Fastest broadband speed: 1.125Tbps

Fibre internet cable

A new record for the fastest ever data rate for digital information has been set by UCL researchers in the Optical Networks Group.

Autopage’s subscriber base sale approved by Competition Tribunal

Altech Autopage, Altech Technology Concepts card in hand

Regulators have given Vodacom, MTN and Cell C the green light to acquire the subscribe base of mobile service provider Altech Autopage.

Awesome deals on tech and gadgets

Tech Deals Specials blue

If you’ve clicked on this article, you must be here for the best tech and gadget deals in South Africa this weekend – and the Staff Writer’s “hilarious” joke, of course.

X

Newsletter Subscription


Name
Email *
Enter the following to confirm your subscription *
Captcha image


Free MyBroadband Newsletter
Subscribe
x