SAFACT is shutting down after members pull funding amid scandals involving senior executives.
November 8, 2018 – The South African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT) is closing down their operations. The Board of Directors claims that too many members gave up their support for the group, leaving SAFACT with a lack of sufficient funding to continue operations.
SAFACT has been fighting against piracy since 1999 and has the support of media industry groups.
The Group’s recent action included tougher anti-piracy measures, although the group’s social media accounts and website have been inactive for years. A letter was sent to employees in mid-October asking them to vacate their offices. SAFACT is providing employees with one week of severance pay for each year of employment at the company.
Employees have not been paid for the month of October, with SAFACT’s official letter claiming staff will be paid “if and when” funds are available.
“The SAFACT board of directors do not believe that there is any compelling reasons that an organization such as SAFACT should still be in existence,” MyBroadband reports.
Official statements claim that the Group does not anticipate new members wanting to fund SAFACT.
The closure comes months after reports of scandals started to hit the company. MyBroadband’s documents include proof that a senior executive left the company after he was ordered to attend a hearing in which he was being accused of sexual harassment. Two female employees reportedly filed complaints against the executive.
The hearing was scheduled in September, but the executive refused to attend and resigned from his position immediately. A lawyer’s letter claims that the terms of employment at SAFACT is such that the organization cannot act against a person that is no longer an employee. This would include an employee that resigns with immediate effect.
Resignation led to the proceedings coming to an end.
Reports of large sums of unaccounted money have surfaced. Directors and members of SAFACT have not commented on the matter. The mismanagement of money is one of several serious allegations against the group. Procedures that must be followed when seizing counterfeit goods were not followed. CIPC records were also not updated properly. The CIPC records that exist show many directors that have not been with the company for years.
Members that help fund SAFACT were in-the-know about allegations of misconduct by senior executives prior to pulling their funding from the group. The closure of SAFACT is a major blow in the fight against piracy in the region.
“Well, over the past few years, we have seen piracy rise and this group was one of the best ones to stop it. Still, having no option to survive, they will have to shut down giving an edge to every torrent company,” explains Best VPN Analysis.
Members, which includes the majority of the membership of the group, pulled their support for SAFACT and are reportedly considering options for alternative arrangements to protect their intellectual property (IP).
Members, often some of the largest IP holders, include MultiChoice, which states that the group will proceed with its own piracy investigations internally.
SAFACT’s objectives were to block access to websites for South African users that facilitate piracy. SAFACT threatened ISPs with potential legal action if their proposal was not enforced or agreed upon. South Africa is considered a piracy hotspot, with over 50% of users pirating content, and 80% of downloaded content being music, movies, and television shows.
Motion Picture Association (MPA) granted SAFACT power of attorney over member studios directly to enforce copyright and IP of members. The power allowed SAFACT to bring action against local infringing parties and websites.
SAFACT’s official website remains “temporarily unavailable.”
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