Jamii Telecom Limited Chief Executive Officer Joshua Kipchumba (pictured) faces six months in jail for disobeying High Court orders requiring the firm to block 141 sports pirating websites.
MultiChoice Kenya filed a certificate of urgency to have Kipchumba jailed for failure to honour Court orders issued last month.
The firm accuses Jamii Telecom of continuing to disobey the orders compelling the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to block sports pirating websites from infringing on copyrighted material.
“Despite being granted 72 business hours, up from the initial 48 business hours, by High Court to comply with the takedown notices, Jamii Telecom Limited is yet to comply with the court orders,” argued Multichoice Kenya in the contempt of application.
The company said that On June 23, 2022, Justice Wilfrida Okwany granted a permanent injunction compelling Jamii Telecom in collaboration with the government to block live sports streaming sites on its network.
This was after Justice Okwany made a finding that Multichoice lawfully issued valid takedown notices to two ISPs namely; Jamii Telecom Limited and Safaricom PLC, and they ought to have complied with the same immediately.
“The said CEO Joshua Kipchumba ought to be cited and committed to jail or pay fines for contempt of court orders issued on June 23, 2022,” Multichoice Kenya said.
The firm also wants the court to summon Kipchumba to appear in court to show cause why he should not be punished for disobedience of the court orders.
Multichoice argued that the continuous disobedience of the orders by the company has occasioned them huge losses as their protected content is accessed freely by pirating sites.
MultiChoice Kenya Managing Director Nancy Matimu expressed her disappointment at the leading telco’s blatant failure to comply with the court order.
“The Kenyan law has sent a clear message that we respect the right of content creators to earn a living from their work,” said Matimu.
“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,” she added.
The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) and the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) were interested parties in the suit.
Representatives of civil-society copyright bodies, which work to fight content piracy and protect intellectual property, have welcomed the verdict.
Meanwhile, MultiChoice and Safaricom are currently in talks and are working together towards compliance with the court order.
The decision by the court is expected to majorly affect football fans across the country and other consumers of pirated content through unauthorised sites that rebroadcast the games.