MultiChoice wins historic copyright suit against major telcos, including Safaricom

Some years ago when MultiChoice noticed that Safaricom and Jamii Telecom were livestreaming its sports content in Kenya without permission, the pay-TV giant sent them cease and desist notices. But the telcos' failure to comply led to MultiChoice filing a legal suit which it has now won.

MultiChoice wins historic copyright suit against major telcos, including Safaricom

Business Insider Africa gathered that a High Court in the East African country ordered the service providers to take down the football content, noting that they ought to have done so when MultiChoice served them notices prior to suing them in 2019.

Both Safaricom and Jamii Telecom gave no lawful excuse as to why they failed to remove the pirated content. And following the latest ruling by the High Court, Safaricom had requested for more time to enable it comply.

Meanwhile, MultiChoice welcomed the ruling. Business Daily quoted MultiChoice Kenya's MD, Nancy Matimu, to have said:

“We have been fighting for years to ensure that there are legal copyright protections and that those protections are enforced. The court has reaffirmed the stance of the law that copyright must be protected."

It should be noted that whereas regular subscribers to MultiChoice's pay-TV packages incur monthly subscription fees, those streaming content online only incur data costs. The implication, therefore, is that MultiChoice loses out on profits whereas telcos sell more data and make extra profits.

There are, at least, over 140 websites that currently host said pirated content. And even though the High Court had in 2020 temporarily ordered the sites to be suspended, Safaricom reportedly managed to suspend the decision by appealing before the Court of Appeal.

Again, football-related content are at the centre of this controversy. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, European Super Cup, Championship & Europa Leagues, English Premier League and La Liga matches are widely watched by millions of fans. And MultiChoice has the exclusive right to broadcast the content.

The company said it had invested heavily to be able to hold this broadcasting right. Therefore, any entity retransmitting these football matches without express authorisation from the pay-TV company is breaching its copyright.

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