Safaricom and Jamii Telcom asked to block sites streaming Multichoice’s Premier league content

A Kenyan court has asked two major internet service providers in the country – Safaricom and Jamii Telcom to restrict access to any sites that are streaming pirated content from Multichoice. This is seen as a major set back to Kenyans who have relied on sites pirating content from the likes of Dstv which stream premium content including sporting events to users. Multichoice owns a set of channels on the supersport platform that broadcast live sporting events and currently has exclusive rights on some loved events.

In her ruling, Justice Wilfrida Okwany issued temporary orders aimed at various sites that broadcast Multichoice’s content without authorization. The move came as the Pay TV entertainer moved to court seeking orders to have the two internet service providers block sites for copyright infringement. Notably, the ruling is seen to set a precedent in relation to the recently enacted copyright Act 2019 that was aimed at addressing this type of disputes.  

Multichoice was looking to have the two service providers restrict sites from infringing on its copyrighted content – which in this case includes various websites that have been streaming supersport channels without authorization. According to section 35B of the act, an internet service provider is expected to pull down any case of content infringement within 48hrs once it has been reported.

Multichoice has been increasingly facing stiff competition from other Pay TV services or streaming services that in some cases provide more recent content and have availed various ways for customers to access any content on their platforms. The Pay TV provider has therefore been responding accordingly such as releasing its own streaming services as well as unveiling hardware that would access online content as well.

In the suit, Multichoice accuses Safaricom and Jamii Telcom of ignoring the takedown request dated October 29, 2019. This according to the Pay TV service allowed various entities to rebroadcast, re-transmit and replicating its content without authorization, which is unlawful and caused irreparable economic loss.

On their part, Safaricom and Jamii Telcom both denied the accusations and instead argued their role was only to provide internet to clients and therefore cannot dictate what they use it for, or what they are not supposed to use.

In the two firm’s perspective, the Communications Authority of Kenya was well placed to enforce the requests and not them. They proceed to argue that the infringing sites do not belong to them and that orders for barring such websites had since elapsed.

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