Pirate TV boxes in South Africa: why SAFACT nailed the little guy

The Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT) recently announced that the first criminal prosecution against an Internet TV box seller had concluded.

AVSupply pleaded guilty to charges relating to distributing the DroidTV MXiii media device.

However, AVSupply’s Jacque Hilbert said they weren’t guilty of the charges relating to piracy that he pled guilty to on behalf of the company.

Hilbert said he was backed into a corner when the legal advice company he had contracted, Legal Advice Office, stopped paying the legal firm that was representing him.

The prosecutor then offered him a deal: plead guilty, and he would receive a suspended sentence and no criminal record.

What about bigger fish, like Takealot?

Following the trial, Hilbert said he took issue with the fact they were a target of MultiChoice and SAFACT when other online stores sold the same devices, and sell similar devices now.

For example: South Africa’s largest online retailer, Takealot, sells these devices.

At the time of AVSupply’s prosecution, it had an Emtec Movie Cube The TV Box listed with the following wording in its advertisement: “Get some 3D MKV file on your flash drive or an HDD from a friend.”

Hilbert wanted to know why this wording didn’t draw MultiChoice’s attention, yet the product listing for the DroidTV box did.

AVSupply’s description of the DroidTV MXiii said it comes “with XBMC, Netflix, Hulu+, Plex, Airplay Server, and more”, and that it “runs smooth full HD content from local media and your favourite XBMC streaming add-ons.”

It is worth noting that MultiChoice, which is a member of SAFACT, is a Naspers-owned company. Naspers also owns a 47% stake in Takealot.

Takealot was asked about the AVSupply case and its Emtec media player, but the retailer did not respond by the time of publication.

Another online retailer that sells Android-powered media boxes is Raru.

Raru’s Neil Smith told MyBroadband that it never sold the DroidTV MXiii, and that they only sell ICASA-approved, Android-based, sealed media boxes.

“The ICASA-approved models we have on the site include brands like Mede8er and MyGica,” said Smith. MultiChoice and SAFACT have not contacted Raru regarding its media boxes.

Among the charges AVSupply pleaded guilty to was that the DroidTV MXiii came pre-installed with XBMC and add-ons called Fusion, Mashup, and Xunity.

When asked whether a box configured like this facilitates piracy, Smith said they can’t comment on what end users use products for.

Takealot Emtec Movie Cube The TV Box listing from October 2015
Takealot Emtec Movie Cube The TV Box listing from October 2015

How piracy investigations lead to prosecutions

MultiChoice told MyBroadband it is continually scanning the environment and investigating any instances where its content is used illegally.

“Any action arising from these investigations, including any possible legal action, is then handed over to SAFACT,” said MultiChoice.

SAFACT said it is currently investigating several other matters, which it is not at liberty to discuss, which may include online retailers.

“SAFACT’s primary responsibility is to protect its members’ rights, in whichever format infringements happens,” the federation said.

“Devices offered for sale, that come pre-loaded or have pre-installed software, that allow illegal access to protected content will be investigated and SAFACT reserves the right to pursue those involved.”

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Pirate TV boxes in South Africa: why SAFACT nailed the little guy