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André de Ruyter’s tell-all book on Eskom is being shared as a PDF copy. Intellectual property specialist Waldo Steyn explains the implications of opening, i.e. copying, or distributing this pirated version yourself.

Bruce Whitfield interviews Waldo Steyn, intellectual property executive at ENSafrica.

  • Soon after André de Ruyter’s book on Eskom was released, a PDF copy was being circulated via Whatsapp
  • Taking part in circulating this copy of ‘Truth to Power’ is considered a criminal offence
  • Simply opening a PDF you may have received amounts to copyright infringement as you are, in effect, copying it onto your device

FILE: Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter. Picture: @Eskom_SA/Twitter

André de Ruyter’s tell-all book on Eskom was released on Sunday.

By Monday there were reports of a PDF version of “Truth to Power” being circulated via Whatsapp.

Publisher Penguin Random House issued a statement warning that any copying or distribution of a pirated ebook, or any forwarding of a link to it, is unlawful.

The distribution of pirated copies infringes our copyright as well as that of the author, and it is unlawful in terms of the Copyright Act of 1976.

Penguin Random House

We will take legal action against individuals who are circulating pirated copies, which may include criminal complaints once we have collected all the necessary information.

Penguin Random House

The statement quoted de Ruyter’s response when he learnt about the pirated ebook:

“It seems in South Africa anything related to Eskom is prone to being stolen.”

Related stories:

‘De Ruyter’s book being secret until publishing was the best way to get it out’

André de Ruyter drops SHOCKING Eskom allegations in tell-all memoir

Bruce Whitfield talks to Waldo Steyn, Intellectual Property Executive at ENSafrica.

Steyn says the first principle to remember is that it would be unlawful to actually copy a work or to make adaptations of it.

When it comes to distribution he explains, there is something referred to as “indirect infringement”.

While in most cases this relates to people distributing works for profit, it also covers situations where that distribution would prejudice the author, or actually the owner of the copyright.

“If that’s done with the knowledge of the distributor, that would not only amount to a situation where there
potentially could be a civil claim against that person but it could amount to a criminal offense.”

If you receive a PDF like this, understand that by opening it you are effectively copying that work onto the device where you are reading it he emphasizes.

That act itself becomes an act of copyright infringement. If you were then starting to engage in distributing that to your network you then take a next step in that infringement process, and through that distribution you could actually engage in a criminal activity.

Waldo Steyn, Intellectual Property Executive – ENSafrica

The most difficult part to understand about people who distribute material like this is that often they are people who would not go into a shop and steal, he says.

This is, I think, a work that is very important as part of our public discourse in South Africa, but by no means can that detract from the tremendous effort… and the commercial risk involved in getting a published work out there.

Waldo Steyn, Intellectual Property Executive – ENSafrica

It is the entire publishing ecosystem that is prejudiced by these distributors who sometimes think they’re almost altruistic in their sharing of that information.

Waldo Steyn, Intellectual Property Executive – ENSafrica

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