MultiChoice seeks to punish telcos for hacked websites

Biwott Tirop, CEC of Laikipia County, and Nancy Matimu, Managing Director of MultiChoice Kenya, unveil the plaque for the new mast at Nanyuki. [James Wanzala,Standard]

The battle between a pay-TV company and internet service providers (ISPs) has escalated over court orders over pirated content.

Last month, High Court Judge Wilfrida Okwany ordered Jamii Telecom and Safaricom to block websites carrying pirated content belonging to MultiChoice.

While Safaricom has complied, the fight has now shifted to Jamii Telecom, which is accused of failing to obey orders to take down 141 websites.

MultiChoice returned to court to punish Jamii Telecom for alleged contempt of court. The pay-TV company’s attorney, Eddie Omondi, in the application filed on Friday, argued that MultiChoice continues to suffer losses from “free” content broadcast by pirated sites.

“Continued disobedience to said orders by Defendant has and continues to cause enormous loss to Plaintiff as their protected content is freely accessible by the pirate fathers and/or domain with Defendant’s perpetuation,” Omondi said.

MultiChoice wants Jamii Telecom CEO Joshua Kipchumba to be fined or jailed.

“To date, Respondent (Jamii) has neglected, refused and/or refused to comply with said orders while continuing to allow access to pirate fathers through their services in complete disregard of said orders” , Omondi added.

In this case, MultiChoice sued Safaricom and Jamii Telecom for copyright infringement. The landmark case tests the effectiveness of the Copyright Act 2019 in resolving such disputes.

MultiChoice was asking the court to compel the two companies to block access to websites showing pirated matches from its SuperSport channels. “Section 35B of the Copyright Act requires an ISP to remove infringing content within 48 hours of notification of a takedown notice,” MultiChoice said in court documents.

The company further accused Safaricom and Jamii Telecom of ignoring a takedown notice dated October 29, 2019.

“Retransmission, retransmission or reproduction of Applicant’s proprietary content without permission constitutes an infringement of Applicant’s rights, is unlawful, and causes irreparable economic loss to Applicant, not to mention the other losses and harms that piracy entails,” a- he asserted.

While denying the allegations, Safaricom and Jamii Bora denied infringing MultiChoice’s copyrights.

They maintain that their role is simply to provide the Internet to their customers and that they have no control over what they do with it.