A Capetonian has just made history this week by being the first South African person ever arrested for sharing a movie using bittorrent. At this stage it's not general knowledge which movie it was but he appeared in court this morning.
Before everyone starts taking sledgehammers to hard drives or deleting large swathes of media files it looks like this guy was probably the ripper and primary seeder of a very recent movie that's possibly not available for retail yet. I'm not sure if he part of a release group or just a casual uploader but the guys who share material before it's available in the shops are the guys that give the copyright industry the biggest hard-on when it comes to wanting to catch them. Looking at his general MO I suspect this guy might have made things unnecessarily easy for them to catch him. Using bittorrent as your protocol of choice and releasing on The Pirate Bay is asking for trouble especially if you're not using an anonymous VPN and seedbox and the fact he chose TPB makes me think he's not a pro or part of a larger group.
This and other early cases are very important for the copyright industry, the results and decisions recorded in this type of pioneering court action will help form the legal framework and case law that will define the landscape for future prosecutions across the entire country. Because of their great importance they'll tend to cherrypick the cases accordingly and they'll certainly want to have their ducks in a row because their future financing will largely depend on it. If they prove themselves to be inept and ineffective then future funding from the big copyright industry heavyweights and players with vested interests in copyright monopolies won't be so forthcoming.
One of the many important issues in these cases is that they'll want to get it recognised legally that the person who owns the ipaddress is the person that is legally responsible for anything that is uploaded or downloaded from that point even if it wasn't actually them. They'll want owning an ipaddress to be the same as owning a firearm whereby it's the registered owners responsibility to prevent it from being borrowed, stolen or misused by a third party. For firearms this is all well and good but firearms are exceptional items for very obvious reasons whereas an ipaddresses certainly don't fall into the same category.
The problem the copyright monopolies have is that it’s not financially rewarding to have to individually chase and prosecute people they consider are abusers. This is especially true in SA where many people who fileshare do so out of economic necessity so there will inevitably a desire to head for a point where owner of an ipaddress is automatically responsible because he’s more likely to be able to pay. Paving the way for the ever popular pay-up-or-else letters and three strikes system will be high on the agenda.
I’ll be following this and future actions with great interest.