Fighting Piracy in SA with the law

At an event in Bryanston today the Free Market Foundation and Network Alliance reiterated the BSA’s findings based on their self-funded IDC study that a reduction in piracy would result in massive gains in jobs and revenue for South Africa.

In September last year the Business Software Alliance (BSA) said that ten point drop in South Africa’s piracy rate from 35% to 25% would result in 1650 new high tech jobs and R9 billion in “new economic activity.”

These benefits come not only from the license fees of software, the BSA explained, but also from services and other secondary industries related to computer software.

The chairperson of the BSA, Charl Everton, presented their five step framework for reducing piracy in South Africa, the first step being “legislate.”

Charl EvertonEverton explained that intellectual property (IP) owners in South Africa have the Copyright Act and Counterfeit Goods Act at their disposal to protect their IP, but that the laws have some shortcomings.

Among the shortcomings is that the Copyright Act isn’t clear about the criminalisation of piracy by end-users such as businesses.

Civil damages payable by those found guilty of piracy is also not enough of a deterrent, Everton said.

Everton also said that copyright ownership isn’t necessarily assumed in South Africa, meaning that in many cases you have to prove that you own the copyright.

MacDonald Netshitenze, acting chief director of commercial law at the South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), outlined the consumer corporate regulation division’s (CCRD) activities in having South Africa’s IP laws reformed.

According to Netshitenze, the DTI has put the draft IP Policy 2011/2012 in place and it will be relayed to Cabinet for approval for wider public consultation.

Once the IP Policy is in place, Netshitenze said, it will result in amendments to South Africa’s IP legislation.

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Fighting Piracy in SA with the law