High Court Orders Blocking Of Sports Streaming Websites

An image of a judge's gavel. [PHOTO | COURTESY]

The High Court has directed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Kenya to permanently bar unauthorised live sports streaming websites.

This follows a petition by Multichoice Kenya in 2019 that sought to compel Safaricom PLC and Jamii Telecom Limited to block the pirate websites on their networks over copyright issues.

During the hearing on Thursday, Justice Wilfrida Okwany found that the applicant, MultiChoice Kenya had lawfully issued valid take-down notices to the ISPs which they had failed to comply without any lawful excuses.

After the ruling, Safaricom requested 72 hours to comply with take-down notices, a request that the court granted.

Back in 2020, the High Court had initially issued a temporary blocking order to the ISPs but Safaricom appealed and the orders were stayed by the Appellate Court.

In the case that had the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) and the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) listed as interested parties, Multichoice Kenya, as the aggrieved party seeks to have broadcasting rights protected in accordance with the Copyright Act.

Section 35B (1) of the Act states:  “A person whose rights have been infringed by content to which access is being offered by an Internet Service Provider may request by way of a takedown notice, that the ISP removes the infringing content.”

According to the applicant, Supersport, a South Africa-based television satellite which houses DStv as well as GOtv has made substantial financial investments to hold the exclusive broadcast and transmission rights for major European football leagues which need protection.

Among the leagues include UEFA Super Cup, Championship and Europa Leagues, English Premier League and La Liga which attract huge streaming from the pirate websites.

Welcoming the ruling, MultiChoice Kenya Managing Director, Nancy Matimu said, “We have been fighting for years to ensure that there are legal copyright protections and that those protections are enforced. The court has reaffirmed the stance of the law that copyright must be protected.”

Matimu goes forth to opine that African countries should follow suit with the Kenyan high court ruling in a bid to safeguard Africa as an investment partner in protecting the rights of artists, musicians, broadcasters and all content creators.

“The Kenyan courts have sent a message to the rest of the world that we respect the right of content creators to earn a living from their work,” said Matimu.

“This is a landmark ruling. With this verdict, Kenya is saying that any business looking to invest in Kenya can rest assured that their intellectual property will be protected.”

The ISPs had long opposed the takedown provisions in the Copyright (Amendment) Act.

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