MultiChoice Kenya has won a court battle against internet service providers Safaricom and Jamii Telecom after the High Court issued a directive ordering them to take down pirated content.
MultiChoice Kenya filed the case in 2019 seeking to compel the internet service providers to block live streaming of sports on its networks after it had issued take-down notices to the internet service providers which had not been complied with. MultiChoice claimed that 141 websites were hosting content that was infringing on its copyright material. The High Court issued a temporary order in November 2020 directing the internet service providers to disable the websites. Safaricom approached the Court of Appeal where the decision was suspended on the argument that the company would suffer losses and reputational damage if the decision remained in force.
Justice Wilfrda Okwany directed Safaricom and Jamii Telecom to remove content which MultiChoice Kenya argued should be viewed exclusively on its SuperSport channel. Justice Okwany found that the internet service providers have not given any lawful excuse for their failure to comply with the validly issued take-down notices. This is the first time that the High Court has sanctioned take-down notices in terms of the 2019 Copyright Act. Section 35B (1) of the Act states that “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.”
MultiChoice Kenya managing director Nancy Matimu welcomed the decision and stated that the verdict assures businesses who are looking to invest in Kenya that their intellectual property will be protected, and that the court has reaffirmed the stance of the law that copyright must be protected.