Software pirate faces the music

Published Nov 3, 2005


A Ukrainian sailor convicted of pirating computer programs is the first person to be convicted of software piracy in South Africa.

Andrei Goncharko, 48, who was fined R5 000 and given six months' imprisonment suspended for five years, may apply for leave to appeal against his sentence in the Cape Town regional court on Friday.

Passing judgment on Wednesday, magistrate Jan van Zyl said he was indebted to state prosecutor Conrad Heydenrych and defence advocate Christo Bischoff for the manner in which they had handled the "unprecedented" copyright infringement criminal case.

Goncharko, who had pleaded not guilty to a charge of contravening the Copyright Act, was arrested in 2001 after making copies of Microsoft software in his Sea Point flat. Two witnesses testified that he charged them between R150 and R200 for programs.

Goncharko had argued that he knew nothing about the Copyright Act and had merely charged clients for the time, the CD and Internet services.

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