Contrary to Cybercrimes Act, tech law experts argue piracy doesn't equal theft
- Three technology law experts have argued that piracy does not amount to theft
- Jan Vermeulen of MyBroadband asked their experts for their views after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Cyber Crimes Bill into law
Three leading technology law experts have told MyBroadband.co.za that downloading copyrighted videos and other media is not legally considered to be theft.
Jan Vermeulen, Editor at Large at MyBroadband, says this is a surprising view considering that the just-enacted Cybercrimes Act clearly states that the theft of non-physical property should be seen no differently from regular stealing.
President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Cyber Crimes Bill into law earlier this month in an effort to bring South Africa up to international standards for fighting cybercrime.
Vermeulen says, as with all new legislation, interpretations will differ.
He spoke to Dominic Cull from telecoms law firm Ellipsis, Preeta Bhagattjee the director of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr's Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice, and independent technology law specialist Nerushka Bowan.
Is online piracy theft? Read more opinions about this on MyBroadband's forum.
They all came back with very similar conclusions. They disagreed on some of the finer points, but pretty much all three of them came back and said that piracy is not the same thing as theft.Jan Vermeulen, Editor at Large at MyBroadband.co.za
That doesn't mean it's not wrong, and that doesn't mean it's not a different crime - it's copyright infringement.Jan Vermeulen, Editor at Large at MyBroadband.co.za
There's also some nuance about when it's a crime and when it is just unlawful and you might be liable for a fine.Jan Vermeulen, Editor at Large at MyBroadband.co.za
But it's definitely not the same thing as theft.Jan Vermeulen, Editor at Large at MyBroadband.co.za
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