Earlier in November, South Africa’s recording industry body RiSA took action against the country’s largest BitTorrent and NZB sites. BitFarm and Newshost looked to be in peril but a lawyer experienced in dealing with RiSA stepped up to help them. Now it appears that a negotiated settlement could be on the horizon.
On November 6th we reported that RiSA, South Africa’s version of the RIAA, had taken steps to get three sites – BitFarm, Newshost and NinjaCentral shut down on copyright infringement grounds. RiSA sent letters of complaint to the country’s Internet Service Providers association ISPA, demanding the effective takedown of the sites. However, help was at hand.
Lawyer Reinhardt Buys from Buys Inc. Attorneys, who had previous experience of defending against RiSA threats, offered to represent the sites free of charge, telling TorrentFreak, “Sites that collect, index and host so-called torrents are legal in South Africa – the content of such sites is not only protected by the constitutional right to free speech, but is also outside the scope of any copyright claims.”
In correspondence with ISPA, Buys refuted the allegations made against BitFarm and NewsHost, stating that RiSA failed to comply with the Electronic Communications and Transaction Act 25 of 2002 and acted unconstitutionally in dealing with the takedown requests from RiSA.
According to a new report, immediately after Buys’ correspondence, RiSA responded saying that they are prepared to work with Buys’ clients BitFarm and Newshost “to ensure that the rights and interests of all parties are respected under the law,” with Sony BMG Managing Director and RiSa board member Keith Lister providing assurances that while these negotiations take place, further takedown notices would be suspended.
“I am not at liberty to disclose current mutual undertakings / progress, but I’m confident that this whole thing might still have a happy ending,” Buys told mybroadband.co.za.
However, the language used by RiSA is not completely conciliatory, stating that there should be no doubt over “our willingness – and our capacity – to protect the economic and constitutional right of our members and, through them, the rights and interests of a large number of South Africans.”
At the time of publication, both BitFarm and Newshost are operational. A third smaller private BitTorrent site, NinjaCentral, appears to be in the process of closing.