Safaricom Loses The DStv Piracy Lawsuit Battle


Safaricom lost the DStv piracy lawsuit battle.

After receiving a decree from the High Court for them to remove pirated content from the pay-TV company, MultiChoice won a legal battle against internet service providers, including Safaricom.

Safaricom and Jamii Telecom were ordered by Justice Wilfrda Okwany to remove content that MultiChoice claims should only be seen on its SuperSport channel. In an attempt to push the telecoms to prevent live sports streaming on their networks, MultiChoice launched the lawsuit in 2019. MultiChoice said that 141 websites were hosting content that violated other people’s copyrights.

According to Justice Okwany, MultiChoice Kenya legally sent the ISPs with proper take-down notices, and they were required to abide by them.

The judge additionally discovered that the ISPs had not provided any legitimate justification for their refusal to abide by the notifications. Safaricom begged the court for further time to follow the instruction.

The judge said:

“The upshot is that the petitioner has made out a case,” the judge said.

While individuals who watch the games on contentious websites simply pay for data, subscribers to Multichoice’s DStv and Gotv packages pay a monthly subscription.

The High Court had ordered the ISPs to deactivate the websites temporarily in November 2020, but Safaricom successfully challenged the ruling to the Court of Appeal, leading to its suspension. According to Safaricom, if the verdict is sustained, the carrier will experience losses and reputational harm.

In addition to a damaged image in the international communications industry, the telco highlighted civil and criminal actions from its consumers as some of the possible effects of its efforts to regulate the behaviour of its users.

The pay-TV company said that SuperSport had made large financial expenditures to get and hold the exclusive broadcast and transmission rights for the English Premier League, La Liga, European Super Cup, Championship, and Europa Leagues in Kenya and other sub-Saharan African nations.

The law of transmitting football games.

According to MultiChoice, it is against the law to rebroadcast and retransmit football games without first getting permission. The company claimed that its earnings from paid subscriptions are still being negatively impacted by the ongoing unauthorized streaming of its protected material over the internet.

For its side, Safaricom argued that following the ruling would violate the rights of other copyright holders and irreparably harm its reputation both locally and internationally.

With this ruling, the court officially endorses takedown notices under the 2019 Copyright Act for the first time. The Act’s Section 35B (1) reads 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.”

She continued by saying that the decision gives any company considering an investment in Kenya peace of mind about the protection of their intellectual property. “The court has reaffirmed the stance of the law that copyright must be protected.”