Kenya’s Copyright Amendment Bill draws concern from international sports broadcasters

The Kenyan Parliament is currently considering a far ranging Copyright Amendment Bill that could have implications for how international sports events are broadcast in the country in future.

This according to the Sports Rights Owner Coalition (SROC) and Partners against Piracy (PAP), as there are provisions within the Bill that would limit the capacity of broadcasters to issue takedown notices.

“In the recent letter, signed by Chairman Mark Lichtenstein, the SROC says its members are ‘extremely concerned’ at changes that will be made to Kenya’s Copyright Act if the Copyright Amendment Bill becomes law,” a press release sent to Hypertext explains.

“The SROC is particularly worried about proposals to repeal sections 35B, 35C and 35D of the Copyright Act, which allow for take-down notices issued to internet-based service provider platforms which enable content piracy to flourish,” it adds.

As the Kenya Copyright Board (KeCOBO), which is aligned with the SROC and PAP, notes, the inability to issue takedown notices could have far reaching implications on broadcasters’ desire to operate in the Africa country.

“Take-down notices are a critical tool for copyright holders and related rights holders to fight digital content piracy by controlling the distribution and economic viability of their work and how it is accessed online,” highlights Edward Sigei, KeCOBO executive director.

“Across the world, they help to safeguard the intellectual property rights of sports rights owners. If rights owners cannot request that pirated sports content is taken down immediately, that will threaten the future of live sports broadcasts in Kenya. Why would international sports media allow sports broadcasts in Kenya, if they have no way of stopping them from being pirated,” he emphasises.

While there have indeed been instances in the past where takedown notices have been abused in order to limit content creators, namely streamers, it looks like this situation is aimed at retaining control with broadcasters when it comes to potential copyright infringement.

“Were the Copyright Amendment Bill to be enacted, it could have devastating consequences for both the Kenyan economy and Kenyan consumers,” the aforementioned SROC open letter points out.

“Rights holders from sport and other creative industries are extremely unlikely to license their content in a jurisdiction that effectively legitimises piracy. Consumers would therefore be deprived from watching their favourite sports and television shows, and leave Kenya isolated on the global copyright stage,” it concludes.

What decision the Kenyan Parliament takes on the Bill (drafted in 2019) remains to be seen, but it is currently being heard. The outcome could significantly affect the landscape as far as sports broadcasting in Kenya is concerned.

[Image – Photo by Izuddin Helmi Adnan on Unsplash]


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