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DStv ‘Robin Hood’ handed 7-year prison sentence

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DStv’s premium package costs R839 per month, while Mott’s streaming boxes cost between R550 and R650.

A Capetonian man was found guilty of violating the copyright of MultiChoice by selling access to pirated DStv content, and the Bellville Specialized Commercial Crime Court, sentenced him to seven years in prison for his actions, MyBroadband reports.

The perpetrator, identified as Jordan Lee Mott, was taken into custody in October of 2020 by investigators with the provincial commercial crime unit of the Western Cape.

After an investigation it was discovered that he was selling modified Android TV boxes that allowed for the streaming of copyrighted content, including material owned by MultiChoice that is typically only available on paid-for DStv bouquets. This led to him being forced to stop selling those boxes.

He was given a sentence of seven years in prison after being found guilty on seven counts of violating article 45 of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communicated-related Information Act (Rica).

However, the entirety of Mott’s sentence was suspended for a period of five years on the condition that he would not be convicted of a crime of a similar nature again during that time.

In contrast to a DStv premium package subscription, which costs R839 per month, Mott charged between R550 and R650 for the streaming boxes in once-off payment.

In spite of the fact that he will not be sent to jail as a result of this, the conviction will be recorded on his criminal record and will stay there for at least ten years.

In addition to that, the court ordered him to make a fine payment to the Criminal Asset Recovery Account in the amount of R60,000.

Both MultiChoice and its copyright protection subsidiary Irdeto expressed their satisfaction with the decision. Collen Dlamini, an executive at MultiChoice responsible for corporate affairs, referred to the ruling as a “significant moment” in the ongoing battle against piracy.

On the other hand, he stated that this particular instance was merely a “glimpse of the real nature of piracy.”

According to Dlamini, “there is more work that needs to be done in terms of minimizing the negative impact that piracy has on the creation of content and the economy.”

“It is important that we work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are brought to justice and made to feel the full force of the law,”

“As we step up our efforts to combat piracy, I have high hopes that this will lead to an increase in the number of convictions,” Dlamini added.

This is only the second case of piracy to result in a criminal sentence being handed down in South Africa.

After being accused of distributing the South African film Four Corners via The Pirate Bay in 2014, a man from Cape Town reached a plea bargain with the state and was allowed to avoid jail time.

The accused entered a guilty plea to the charge of infringing copyright and was given suspended sentences in accordance with the Copyright Act and the Counterfeit Goods Act.

Under the Copyright Act, he was given a three-year prison sentence that was completely suspended for a period of five years. Under the Counterfeit Goods Act, he was given a six-month prison sentence that was also suspended.

In 2016, the Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT), which no longer exists, declared victory over a small electronic goods company that had been accused of distributing Android-based TV boxes that allegedly helped facilitate piracy. The company had been accused of selling the boxes to consumers.

After allegedly falling victim to a scam perpetrated by the legal advice company he had retained, the accused also agreed to a plea bargain.

As part of the agreement, the company entered a guilty plea for violating the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act and for enabling the piracy of channels such as BBC and Sky Sports, as well as movies and television shows through the use of XBMC (now Kodi).

In exchange, the prosecution offered the company’s directors a suspended sentence and a clean slate with regard to their criminal history.

At the beginning of this year, MultiChoice reduced the number of simultaneous streams that were available to DStv customers to a single device at a time. The company stated that this action was taken as part of its efforts to combat piracy.

The decision infuriated DStv’s subscribers, many of whom pointed out that members of a household with a legitimate subscription could no longer stream multiple live channels at the same time. DStv’s subscribers voiced their disapproval of the decision on social media.

Prior to that, the CEO of MultiChoice South Africa, Nyiko Shiburi, acknowledged the annoyance that the single-device limit has caused for some of the company’s subscribers.

However, he emphasized that the inconvenience caused to customers as a result of the limitation was outweighed by the damage that was caused to the broadcasting industry as a result of piracy.

According to Shiburi’s explanation, piracy has the effect of negatively affecting the entire value chain. When you make an investment in a particular show, you naturally have certain expectations regarding the types of returns you will receive.

When something like this fails to take place, it has an effect not only on the participants, but also on the advertisers.

Shiburi stated that MultiChoice was working on a “proximity control” mechanism that would allow for more streams to be used within the same household. However, the company does not intend to remove the device limit at this time.

This technology will attempt to confirm that smart devices that access DStv streams are being utilized in the same physical location as a DStv device, most likely an Explora decoder or a Streama multimedia box.

READ MORE: Doctor kidnapped, robbed, and gunned down, in staggering robbery

Initiating a “handshake” between DStv devices and mobile devices or smart TVs that are used to stream content from the DStv app is one of the possible approaches that could be taken.

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