City crackdown on piracy

2012-02-04 00:00

POLICE are cracking down on the flagrant sale of fake DVDs and CDs in Pietermaritzburg.

Five suspects arrested for selling pirated DVDs on Thursday appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Jumbo Mkhize (26), Nhlanhla Dunge (25), Sthembiso Mfekayi (36), Frank Ntuli (26) and Sthembiso Mbatha (23) were charged under the Copyright Act. They were remanded in custody.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said the police followed up on information they received from the public.

“We then set up a sting operation where we found the suspects selling the DVDs in Pietermaritz Street,” she said.

Jeevan said they confiscated around 500 discs with an estimated street value of R50 000, adding that the DVDs were of a poor quality and would be destroyed.

Eastern Cape-based gospel artist Lusanda Mcinga, leader of the gospel group Lusanda Spiritual Group, who was arrested for assaulting a man who was selling pirated copies of her DVD in Butterworth late last year, said municipalities have a big role to play in curbing piracy.

She said the fight against piracy picked up after Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa intervened after her arrest.

“The stands that these vendors use are issued by the municipalities, who don’t question what they use them for, so they are also complicit and therefore put us on the back foot in our fight against piracy,” she said.

Mcinga said the sentences vendors receive are too lenient.

“For example, we once caught a peddler and took him to the police station with the material. Once we got there we were told they could only charge them after they were arrested for the same offence three times. Other than that, they paid a R200 admission of guilt fine, which is small change compared to the money they make,” she added.

Mcinga said the financial losses incurred because of piracy were massive because music stores don’t order as many discs when people are buying on the street.

“When I would be recording, orders would come in by the thousands while I’m still in studio, but now I can only manage 15 000 copies in three months,” she added.

Jacques Botha, spokesperson for the SA Federation against Copyright Theft (Safact) said that in 2011 they confiscated 550 000 illegal CDs and DVDs. He said: “The illegal copying of movies and music costs the local industry millions.

“We believe the majority of these movies and music discs are copied locally and distributed on the black market. We have a tip-off line and we receive tip offs on our Facebook page and through crime line,” he said.

• khanyiso.tswaku@sa.24.com

FAKES: THESE DISCS ARE A CHEAP TRICK

IT’S cheap because it’s nasty!

They look almost like the real thing, but don’t be fooled because what you paid for is likely to be as bad as your conscience.

Cheap knock-off DVDs that offer you the latest blockbuster for less than the price of a movie ticket are probably not even worth the money you paid. So before you get comfy on the couch with your bowl of popcorn and the TV remote, let me give you a preview of the forthcoming attractions.

Some of you may not even be aware that you have committed a crime — it may have crossed your mind that the price was unbelievable — but I am not the intelligence police. If you bought a DVD that bears the title of a new release and it costs less than 50 bucks then you have bought a fake.

You have also committed a crime. You are aiding and abetting a criminal by purchasing an illegal copy of an original movie or music compact disc.

Firstly, most of these fake movies are illegally filmed by amateurs in a movie house with a hand-held camera. You might see the movie you think you bought — but you will also see the back of people’s heads, the scuffed shoes of the perpetrator as he leans back and you may feel seasick as he changes hands midway during scenes because of cramp. In addition to the surround sound you will hear the coughs, scratches and sneezes of the audience.

You may also receive a DVD that is completely different to the one you thought you were getting. You’ve rounded up the kids and grandma, everyone is ready for the latest family entertainment and then whoa! — you’ve got hardcore porn action, or, as is often the case, a karate action special.

If you paid extra for a hardcore porn DVD you and your sweetie may be deflated when you end up watching cartoons. You see, the makers of these fake DVDs have a sense of humour too.

YOU DON'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT

SEEING is not believing.

The quality of fake music CDs and DVDs that flood the market leaves much to be desired.

Weekend Witness reporters went out and bought pirated music CDs and DVDs to see how they compare to originals. When two of the DVDs were played, four of the movies looked like they had been shot straight from the cinema, while the sound on one of the movies was inferior. Some of the recently released movies contained in the packages were The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Underworld: Awakening, The Descendants and Tower Heist.

An MP3 music CD said to be a Rebecca Malope album actually contained the Best of Ringo Madlingozi and albums by Simphiwe Dana, Siphokazi, Lira, Unathi, Malaika and Sarafina, but Simphiwe Dana’s, Siphokazi’s and Lira’s albums did not play, even though they appeared on the root folder.

For R10 you can get most feature films that are either on the big screen circuit or in rental stores.

While it costs between R50 to R80 to purchase a movie ticket, buy popcorn and drinks, you can get five or more four-in-ones (four films on one DVD) or five-in-ones containing various movies stacked according to their genres. Simply buy your own snacks and create your own theatre.

Rentals, which cost around R30 per DVD, depending on the release date, are also affected by piracy because of the number of movies that can be stored on one disc and bought cheaply.

But quality is a factor, and most pirated movies are in the audio video interleave (AVI) format, which older DVD players won’t be able to run.

Local music CDs, usually costing around R100, are massively undercut by pirated MP3s retailing at R10, which contain up to 20 folders depending on the size of the disc. 700MB CDs usually carry around eight to 10 folders, while DVD-Rs with a larger space allocation can fit in more folders. Even international CDs, which retail from around R120 up, also suffer from the scourge.

• All DVDs purchased in the investigation of this article will be handed to the police.

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