UEFA praises the ruling by the High Court blocking access to sports pirate websites

by Wakili Liam
Kai Havertz of Chelsea lifts the winning trophy during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Manchester City and Chelsea Image credit: Imago

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has welcomed the ruling by the Kenyan High Court to bar Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from infringing the copyright of Multichoice Kenya.

Efforts in the fight against the pirate websites, that illegal show premium football matches, began in late 2019 when MultiChoice Kenya filed a lawsuit requesting that ISPs restrict live sports streaming services on their networks. Following an initial interim phase of the court process, the High Court, on 23 June 2022, imposed a permanent injunction compelling certain ISPs in Kenya to permanently block these sports pirate websites.

UEFA also noted that the making available of footage of its competitions without authorisation is an infringement of its intellectual property rights.

“UEFA fully supports the injunction issued by the Kenya High Court to protect media rights owned by MultiChoice. It is a major step forward in the fight against audiovisual piracy in the region. The protection of our intellectual property and the legitimate interests of our rights holders is a top priority for our organisation,” said UEFA marketing director, Guy-Laurent Epstein.

“This is a red-letter day in the fight against piracy in Africa,” said MultiChoice Kenya Managing Director, Nancy 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. With this verdict, Kenya is saying that any business looking to invest in Kenya can rest assured that their intellectual property will be protected.”

The resolution of the landmark case, and following submissions made by interested parties including UEFA, marks the first time that a Kenyan court has sanctioned the issuance of takedown notices under provisions of its copyright legislation, which are aimed at preventing unauthorised access to, and use of, creative works by means of the Internet.

UEFA is pleased to see this principle, and the protection of its rights, has been robustly supported by the Kenyan courts of law.

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