Internet piracy SA court case: which movie was uploaded?

There has been much speculation around which “high profile” South African film has landed a Cape Town man in hot water with copyright authorities and the criminal crimes court.

CEO of the Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft (Safact), Corné Guldenpfennig, told MyBroadband that the case against one Mr. Norton would be a first for South Africa.

However, Guldenpfennig said she couldn’t reveal the name of the film that the alleged copyright infringer uploaded via popular torrent site, The Pirate Bay.

It is understood that the movie’s copyright holder was afraid that more losses will be incurred if the film’s name is publicised.

Box Office impact of early movie leaks

Many copyright owners hold that file-sharing over protocols such as BitTorrent negatively impacts revenues, and that pre-release leaks only increase these losses.

However, studies into these claims reveal mixed results, with some films making comparatively little money at the box-office on their launch weekend, while others set record highs for their genre.

It therefore seems that the effect of an early leak on a film’s revenue can vary significantly depending on the genre, the quality of the leak, and the quality of the film (based on its eventual aggregate review score).

The secrecy around the name of the film has resulted in much speculation as to what South Africa’s landmark Internet piracy case might be about.

Some wondered whether it was “Mandela: Long walk to Freedom”, the biographical film about former president Nelson Mandela which was released in South Africa a day before its US debut. Leon Schuster’s latest comedy movie was another suggestion.

Unreleased Academy Award submission

However, MyBroadband has good reason to believe that the high-profile South African movie in question is Four Corners, a coming-of-age gang film set in the Cape Flats.

The National Film and Video Foundation announced in September 2013 that Four Corners was selected as South Africa’s official entry into the 86th annual Academy Awards (Oscars) for best foreign language film.

Nominations for the Oscars will be announced on 16 January 2014, with the awards scheduled for 2 March 2014.

Four Corners is set to release in South Africa on 28 February 2014.

The release date was pushed back from 7 February 2014, with the film’s Facebook page telling fans that the later release meant that the film could be screened in more cinemas around the country.

“Reward the artists, musicians, actors and local talent from the Cape Flats by watching Four Corners on the Big Screen,” the film’s Facebook account posted. “Create the opportunity for more Cape Flats films to be made. It’s your move.”

Leaky Oscars

Four Corners would not be the first Oscar entry that leaked ahead of the awards.

So-called DVD “screeners” of Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, and This is 40 were posted on the torrent site (or Kick Ass Torrents, which has since relocated to another domain) ahead of the 2013 Oscars.

One difference, however, is that these movies had already been released on circuit before their screeners leaked.

Asked about Four Corners’ link to Mr. Norton’s case, a spokesperson for the film declined to comment, saying that they didn’t know which movie lead to the arrest.

“Four Corners is amongst a number of South African films that seem to have have been pirated in Cape Town,” executive producer Marvin Saven told MyBroadband.

“All the signs are that Four Corners is rapidly gaining cult movie status,” Saven said. “There is a real positive buzz surrounding the film, particularly as the film is South Africa’s official selection for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards and an IPA Satellite Award nomination for Best Foreign Film.”

Saven said that they are encouraging people to come and experience the film on the big screen when it officially launches in cinemas on 28 February 2014.

“Four Corners will always be better on the Big Screen – that’s where South African actors, artists, musicians, and local talent deserve to be seen,” Saven said.

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Internet piracy SA court case: which movie was uploaded?