Over the years, copyright holders have tried numerous measures to combat online piracy, with varying degrees of success.
Blocking sites has become one of the preferred solutions. While blocking measures aren’t bulletproof, the general idea is that there’s a big enough barrier for casual hackers to choose legitimate options instead.
Courts in dozens of countries around the world have issued banning orders. The first quarantines were implemented in Europe, but soon followed by countries in Asia and the Americas. Africa is a little behind, but that too is starting to change.
Kenya’s Supreme Court orders to block pirate sites
A few days ago, the Kenyan Supreme Court upheld a permanent measure forcing local ISPs, including Safaricom and Jamii Telecom, to block dozens of illegal sports streaming sites.
The list of sites includes 44 names and includes Cricfree, Firstsrowsports, Rojadirecta, Totalsportek and Yalla-shoot. An overview of all sites is at the bottom of this article.
The lawsuit began in 2019 when MultiChoice Kenya sent takedown notices to providers hoping they would block sports streaming sites. When this did not happen, the publisher took the matter to court.
Last week, Judge Wilfrida Okwany concluded that ISPs are legally bound to take action. When a rightsholder submits a valid takedown request, ISPs cannot simply ignore it, as in this case.
It is the first blocking decision in Kenya based on the 2019 revision of the country’s copyright law. The revised law allows rights holders to submit takedown requests to ISPs. Even if internet providers cannot “remove” third-party sites, the court can block them.
The decision is a disappointment for ISPs. They had previously supported a plan to repeal the Copyright Act amendment. This proposal was eventually withdrawn from Parliament, in part due to US government intervention.
Nancy Matimu, Managing Director of MultiChoice Kenya, is pleased with the result, which she describes as a turning point in the fight against piracy in Africa.
“We have struggled for years to ensure that legal copyright protections are in place and enforced. The court reaffirmed the law’s position that copyright should be protected.
Matimu hopes Kenya’s site blocking decision will inspire other African countries. If others follow suit, it will send a positive signal to international rights holders.
“It is a historic decision. With this decision, Kenya says that any company that wants to invest in Kenya can be assured that its intellectual property will be protected.
“More can be done”
Indeed, international copyright holders will be pleased to see site blocking officially come to Kenya. However, there are still many other items on their wish list.
Last week, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), which includes the MPA and RIAA, shared with the US government a list of flaws in Kenya’s copyright and copyright enforcement framework.
Among other things, IIPA would like to see Kenya implement a crime-by-crime policy to terminate persistent hackers’ accounts. Also, the copyright term should be extended for another 70 years in addition to the author’s lifetime.
The full list of 44 blocked sites is as follows.
7. life sport
8. live football broadcasts
9. Live TV
10. VIP box live
11. sports news
12.joker live broadcast
13. Critical free
14. Full matches and shows
19. HD Streams
20. Cdn live broadcast
21. First row sports
22. Live Football
24. Live stream
28. VIP Cabin
29. Extreme Gaming
32. Job Hunter
34. Barcelona Stream
35. sports stream
37. Native American
38. Sport365 Live
39. Kora-online TV
40. Woop Stream