Safaricom vs Multichoice: Court declines request to unblock illegal streaming sites

The Court of Appeal has on Thursday, turned down a request by Safaricom Plc to continue having illegal streaming sites on its network until a case file by Multichoice Kenya is heard and determined.

The telco has sought an interim relief against the High Court order issued on 26th November 2020 ordering it and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block 141 sites suspected to be infringing on Multichoice Kenya’s copyright.

At the time, Justice Winfrida Okwany allowed the prayer by Multichoice Kenya to have the websites containing the offending content pulled down as per section 35D (2) of the Copyright Act pending full hearing of the suit on March 3, 2021.

Justice Okwany gave the orders as interim measure to prevent further infringement of copyright before the matter is conclusively determined.

The court was informed of the reluctance by Safaricom and Jamii Telcom who are the 1st and 2nd respondents receptively to act on a takedown notice issued by Multichoice Kenya on 29th October 2019 forcing the pay-TV firm to file the suit.

This was the first time that a Kenyan court had sanctioned takedown notice as provided for under section 35B of the Copyright Act as amended in 2019 which states that, “A person whose rights have been infringed by content to which access is being offered by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) may request by way of a takedown notice that the ISP removes the infringing content.”

Kenya Copyrights Board (KECOBO) and Communications Authority (CA) were listed as interested parties in the suit during the high court ruling.

The Court of Appeal has reserved the ruling on the stay application for the 19th March 2021.


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