Justice & correctional services minister Ronald Lamola has committed the South African government to fighting content piracy at the local launch of the Partners Against Piracy (PAP) initiative.
PAP was launched in 2018 in several other African countries, including Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Angola, and was launched in South Africa last week.
Speaking at the launch event, which was attended by South African creative professionals, media workers and activists, Lamola said the creative arts industry has the potential to grow and attract investment but needs to be protected by government for growth to succeed.
The South African Cybercrimes Act of 2020 empowers law-enforcement agencies to protect the industry by acting against piracy and allowing for harsher sentences on content pirates, he said.
“We are constantly improving our systems and working to arrest the ringleaders of organised cybercrimes, such as content piracy. We look forward to working with the PAP to wage a coordinated war against piracy,” he said. The minister said that the priority for the police was to arrest the producers and makers of the pirated content and not only those who sell it.
Details were shared at the launch event on the scale of content piracy in South Africa and the continent and world more broadly. According to media technology company Irdeto, the number of users of the top 10 piracy websites is a staggering 245.4 million, while users from five major African made up about 17.4 million of the total – five million of them from South Africa.
“Content piracy is about the theft of intellectual copyright,” said Copyright Coalition of South Africa chairwoman Chola Makgamathe at the event. “Piracy robs content creators and rights holders of the compensation they’re entitled to.”
Music and film
According to Jotam Matariro, CEO of Capasso (the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association), only 37% of music downloaded on digital platforms in South Africa is done so legally. This is an estimated R691-million in revenue lost to piracy, he said.
Piracy also plays a part in local films not making as much money as they should. Refiloe Hlabioa, production and development coordinator at the National Film and Video Foundation, said some films will have little impact in the box office because people have access to them via illegal downloading platforms or even YouTube. “If a film doesn’t make money due to piracy, filmmakers stand to lose the roof over their heads.”
Trademark attorney Stephen Hollis of Adams & Adams Attorneys said the war on piracy is important and that the private sector win it without government help. “Intellectual property rights must not just exist in statute. They must be enforceable,” he said. “Government and the private sector must engage to ignite the industry as a key economic driver of South Africa’s rebound from the pandemic.” — © 2022 NewsCentral Media