BitTorrent piracy is popular among South Africa’s tech-savvy Internet users, with MyBroadband’s most-recent piracy survey revealing that 53% of respondents pirate content online.
Of those who pirate, 80% use BitTorrent to download TV shows, movies, and music.
A recent report reinforced South Africa’s status as a BitTorrent piracy hotspot, after the country made the top-10 list of nations which illegally downloaded the first episode of the latest season of Game of Thrones via BitTorrent.
Based on its its sample of 10,000 downloaders over a 12-hour period, South Africa came in 9th place.
SAFACT working with ISPs, MPA
The Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT) is aware of the protocol’s popularity, and said it is working on “a number of models to curb BitTorrent piracy in SA”, which includes engaging and collaborating with local Internet service providers.
SAFACT Managing Director Jacques Allers said the federation has been granted a mandate by the Motion Picture Association to act against local copyright-infringing parties and sites.
“SAFACT was also granted power of attorney from MPA member studios directly,” said Allers.
“This mandate allows for the civil and criminal prosecution of parties engaged in any activity that may constitute the infringement of copyright-protected films.”
Fining South African pirates
A method employed in the United States and Canada to curb torrent piracy is the issuing of fines through ISPs.
Companies like Contra Piracy – which work with law firms and anti-piracy organisations – track pirates’ IP addresses and sends fines to offenders via their ISP.
Fines range in value, with TorrentFreak reporting that certain pirates have been hit with notices of $250.
Allers said these fines would only be appropriate in South Africa if mandated in legislation or through a court order.
“In terms of South African law, wrongful and blameworthy conduct that causes harm can result in delictual liability,” he said.
“This liability must, however, be determined upon evaluation of the elements of a delict, namely: harm, conduct, causation, and fault.”
“The applicant or plaintiff must have suffered harm and this must be proven in court – as the court has to deal with the question of wrongfulness.”