Blocking access to piracy sites will cause the legal consumption of content to increase in South Africa, the Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT) told MyBroadband.
SAFACT managing director Jacques Allers said that one of the organisation’s objectives is the blocking of access to sites that facilitate copyright infringement, even if they are hosted outside of South Africa.
These sites enable the transmission of works in contravention of the Copyright Act within the country, added Allers.
In 2017, MyBroadband received information that SAFACT was asking Internet service providers to block access to sites it said facilitated online piracy.
SAFACT reportedly informed the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) that it may consider legal action if service providers do not agree to its proposal.
Allers has now revealed to MyBroadband how SAFACT plans to take the matter further with ISPs.
“SAFACT and its members could obtain injunctive relief against a service provider providing mere conduit services, however, the exemptions would apply insofar as seeking any damages against such a service provider,” said Allers.
Where an ISP is not part of an industry representative body recognised by the Minister of Communications, they are not protected by these exemptions and SAFACT and its members could seek damages against these service providers.
In countries where blocks on piracy websites have been implemented, legal content distribution industries have seen increases in customers and revenues, said Allers.
“When limiting or even eliminating access to infringing content, it is only logical to assume that the consumption of legitimate content will increase,” he said.
“The introduction of graduated response in France has generally seen peer-to-peer piracy levels decline by 26%, with around two million users stopping the activity since warning notices were first sent out,” said Allers.
Graduated response is a term used to describe France’s three strikes law, known as HADOPI.
Allers said that as a result of HADOPI in France, iTunes singles sales in the country were 23% higher than they would have been in the absence of the graduated response system.
It is worth noting that researchers have disputed this claim, stating that the rise in iTunes sales was more likely attributable to the increase in iPhone penetration between 2008 and 2009.
A recent report from the Russian newspaper Izvestia stated that cinema attendance in the country was up following the blocking of 8,000 pirate sites.
A report by Cinema Foundation stated that as illegal file sharing decreased, cinema revenue increased in the country.
In 2017, overall box office revenues in Russia grew by 10.9% from 48.4 billion rubles to 53.6 billion rubles (R11 billion). Attendance at cinemas also increased by 11.4%.
When it comes to South Africa, Allers said they do not have a credible source on these type of statistics.
There is the NetNames report released by the Motion Picture Association of America, but that information is confidential, he said.
“The focus should be the creation of a fair playing field – part of this is the blocking of copyright-infringing sites,” said Allers.