Piracy hits District 9

Regulation & Policy

The local box office revenue of the South African blockbuster District 9 is estimated to have lost approximately R1.5m in ticket sales because of piracy, according to the South African Federation of Copyright Theft (SAFACT). The piracy will also have a huge negative impact on legitimate DVD sales.

Globally, there have been 1.4 million Internet downloads of District 9, the first 60.000 of which originated from a camcorder recording in a Ukrainian cinema. Says SAFACT CEO James Lennox: "Locally there have only been a couple of thousand downloads, but once a film gets onto a network it can multiply. In terms of pirated hard goods [ie. DVDs], we have seized just under 1,000 copies of District 9, but we don't know how many have been sold. These days pirates keep low stock levels of high profile films and then replenish to order. The DVDs are being burnt locally. We haven't as yet seen the film offered for sale on the Internet."

District 9 pirated DVDs were found in several Johannesburg locations, such as on the William Nicol motorway, North Rand Rd, at the Bruma Lake Flea Market and around the two main Fourways shopping centres. Prices ranged from between R20 and R50 per unit. Lennox notes that the pirated DVDs are very bad quality, courtesy of the original Ukrainian camcording. "Consequently, all the English subtitles in the film are obscured by Russian subtitles."

Screen Africa