RiSa and torrent website truce?

The issue of torrent websites and copyright infringement has been a hot topic worldwide for years, and recently hit local shores with the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA) Anti-Piracy Unit issuing take-down notices to local torrent and newshost websites.

According to the RiSA Anti-Piracy Unit, Bitfarm is a locally hosted piracy-centric torrent and NZB distribution website. In another letter RiSA called Newshost a locally hosted, invite-only piracy-centric NZB site.

ISPA received letters from RiSA, directed at the ISP MTN Network Solutions, calling for Newshost and Bitfarm to "be taken down with all access to the domain name blocked".

Legal protection

According to legal expert Reinhardt Buys the RiSA Anti-Piracy Unit has no grounds to request the take-down of Bitfarm or Newshost.

Buys is also of the opinion that RiSA’s allegations about Bitfarm and Newshost’s facilitation of piracy fails to establish unlawful or illegal activity or content.

"There is no legal precedent, whether in case law or legislation, in South Africa or elsewhere, confirming that the hosting of torrents and NZBs and the indexing of such files is unlawful or illegal," said Buys.

RiSa willing to discuss the matter

In a legal letter dated 11 November 2008 to lawyer Reinhardt Buys – who is representing Bitfarm and Newshost – RiSA said that they are willing to work with Buys and his clients “to ensure that the rights and interests of all parties are respected under the law.”

According to Buys, Sony BMG Managing Director and RiSa board member Keith Lister gave him an undertaking to delay further take down notices while discussions are ongoing to resolve the matter amicably.

“I am not at liberty to disclose current mutual undertakings / progress, but I’m confident that this whole thing might still have a happy ending,” said Buys.

The RiSA letter disputes Buys’ claims that RiSA represents a small number of members who may have been influenced by torrents from torrent or NZB files from either Bitfarm or Newshost.  This, RiSA said, is ‘gravely misleading to your clients, the ISPA and to specific ISPs. 

RiSA further states that while they are committed to respecting the economic and constitutional rights of Bitfarm, Newshost and others, there must be no illusion “as to our [RiSA] willingness – and our capacity – to protect the economic and constitutional right of our members and, through them, the rights and interests of a large number of South Africans…”

NinjaCentral visitors are currently greeted by the following message:  “If you were referred here for illegal games, movies, series and/or porn, you have been misled. This site has been closed.  Old members: please log in below to see a special goodbye notice, and access the forums, etc which we will continue to keep running.”

Bitfarm was not available and it seems that the website may have been taken down.

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RiSa and torrent website truce?