The first successful criminal case against a distributor of Internet TV boxes that facilitate piracy has concluded, the Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT) has announced.
Jacque Hilbert from AVSupply pleaded guilty to charges relating to selling the media boxes when he appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Court on 31 March.
The TV box ships with software that allows users to illegally download copyrighted content.
The MultiChoice employee reportedly bought a TV box from Tracy Hilbert, after which charges were brought against the couple.
Jacque Hilbert pleaded guilty on Section 86(4) of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, said SAFACT.
The Act criminalizes the use of a device or computer program to overcome security measures designed to protect data, or prevent access to data.
SAFACT said Hilbert was convicted and sentenced to a fine of R20,000. The sentence was suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted of contravening the provisions of section 86 of the ECT Act again.
“All the devices that were seized were forfeited to the state and will be destroyed. The value of the confiscated items is estimated at approximately R80,000,” said SAFACT.
SAFACT Managing Director Jacques Allers said the fight against piracy in South Africa will go on, and “several more cases are being investigated and several more are in the pipeline”.
“We can only hope that this conviction will serve its purpose to deter others from this or similar crimes relating to the creative and entertainment industries,” said Allers.
MultiChoice said it was pleased with the outcome of the case, and that it takes any form of piracy seriously.
“We take it as our duty to protect the rights of content holders in the markets we operate,” said MultiChoice.