KECOBO For The Win In Landmark Copyright Case

What does the KECOBO and Multichoice Kenya court win mean for content creators?


Kaspersky did a survey that declared that Kenya is now Africa’s easiest target for cybercriminals. The report further adds that we accounted for more than 1 out of every 2 million online attacks on the continent.

Kaspersky were not the only ones with alarming findings. Irdeto, the world leader in digital platform security, estimated that content piracy cost the government and the creative industry an estimated $50 billion globally. This illegal practice takes multiple forms not just across the continent but also globally from pirate platforms, illegal screening and streaming, pirated DVDs and storage devices, cable and signal piracy among others.

Now for the good news. The fight against copyright infringement in Kenya has received a landmark impetus after the High Court issued orders requiring both Safaricom Plc and Jamii Telkom Limited to pull down and disable, 141 sites suspected to be infringing on Multichoice Kenya’s copyright, as per section 35D (2) of the Copyright Act. The judge gave these orders as a temporary measure to prevent further infringement of copyright before the matter is concluded pending a full hearing of the suit on 3 March 2021. KECOBO and the Communications Authority (CA) are listed as interested parties in the suit.

This is music to the ears of the creative industry whose livelihoods are directly impacted by the snowballing of pirated content at home and across the continent. Musicians, actors, content buyers and resellers lose millions of dollars due to the infringement of their copyright. It transforms the order into a significant victory for KECOBO who earlier in the year kicked off a multi-stakeholder awareness program dubbed Partners Against Piracy (PAP).

In a spirited bid to clamp down on the distribution of pirated content and protect copyright owners, KECOBO assembled a coalition of like-minded corporates, industry associations and individual rights holders to help fight the piracy menace countrywide. The campaign, dubbed Partners Against Piracy, also targets cybercrimes that involve deliberate efforts to destroy, disrupt, steal, alter or manipulate data stored on IT systems.

Unfortunately, the internet provides countless ways for hackers and pirates to enter proprietary IT systems and networks. Detailed data on frequency, tactics and results of cybersecurity incidents are in their infancy in Africa, but tracking services are growing.

KECOBO Executive Director, Edward Sigei.

Though recent reports and data provided on cybercrime, including content piracy over the internet, has identified Kenya as a hotspot, most Kenyans remain unaware of the unintended consequences of their piracy activities and the harm it causes to communities, consumers and law-abiding citizens.  Earlier this year, a report by CA, showed there was an increase in cybercrimes attributed to an increasingly high number of malware threats, web application attacks, system misconfiguration and online abuse.

This ruling is the first time that a Kenyan court has sanctioned takedown notices. The law provides 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.”

However, even with the rapid growth of cybercrime, prosecution of culprits is still low and slow with only seven per cent of cases successfully prosecuted, according to a 2018 cybercrimes report by Serianu. As a result, even when cybercriminals are arrested, the penalties are often lenient compared to other jurisdictions. 

The landmark order obtained by KECOBO is a sequel to another victory against piracy when the organisation dismantled a suspected criminal network of copyright infringers, mainly responsible for pirating top international football leagues in Kenya.

In a coordinated clampdown with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), KECOBO, in September 2020, nabbed distributors of pirated material who have been gnawing at the profits of content creators. The court order issued at the Milimani High Court has now put on notice copyright infringers as the board adopts a zero-tolerance approach to copyright breaches with a clear mandate of fighting for the greater good of all creative professionals.





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