MultiChoice wants tough laws to curb digital piracy

Wednesday, September 20th, 2023 06:00 | By
Experts say piracy deprives the music industry of Sh15 billion and TV stations Sh8 billion annually. PHOTO/Print
Experts say piracy deprives the music industry of Sh15 billion and TV stations Sh8 billion annually. PHOTO/Print

Despite efforts to tighten the noose on digital piracy, the vice continues to manifest itself and is causing huge losses to investors in the creative industry.

MultiChoice, Africa’s largest media company, is once again warning that the vice remains a challenge to the industry, costing players revenues and government taxes.

Nzola Miranda, Managing Director of MultiChoice Kenya said the firm is losing a lot through unscrupulous links that provide exclusive contents and is working with relevant State enforcing agencies to help address the vice which he acknowledged is not a Kenyan issue and a complex matter.

“The company is losing unquantifiable amounts in terms of revenue leaks from duplicitous links that provide exclusive contents,” he stated.

The source links to the pirated content – which is simply streaming content without authorization from its legal owner, are mostly originating from foreign IP addresses and split locally and freely provided the user has a stable internet connection.

“Streaming piracy is growing. We shut down hundreds of links. On weekends with English Premier League matches we shut down links of illegal piracy. You will be very shocked at what that translates to. The size is enormous,” Miranda said.

His sentiment comes after a recently released report by the Partners Against Piracy (PAP), a multi-sectoral association formed to combat digital piracy, estimated that online piracy costs the country’s creative economy about Sh92 billion annually, or Sh252 million daily, in gross losses.

Experts cite, for instance, that piracy deprives the music industry of Sh15 billion and TV stations of Sh8 billion annually.

The report revealed that during English Premier League (EPL) matches, thousands of Kenyans resort to illicit streaming websites to access pirated content and follow the live games.

An IP address is a numeric label assigned to devices that use the internet to communicate. Computers that communicate over the internet or via local networks share information to a specific location known as IP addresses.

Typically, hackers are known to use scythed IP addresses for illegal activities they don’t want traced back to them. While legal action has been successfully brought against several illegal streamers, many are still fully operational.

“When one stream gets taken down, more pop up in its place,” MultiChoice Kenya Communications and PR manager Elisha Kamau said and called on the government to tighten law to curb digital piracy. “There is a need to minimise the loopholes exploited by perpetrators of digital piracy, which currently deny artists their livelihood and deprive the government of revenue.

Current provisions in the Kenya Cyber Crime Act, for instance, do not specifically mandate Internet Backbone Providers (IBPs) to take active measures in preventing access to infringing and inappropriate domains,” noted Leonard Aguta, Head of Operations Support at MultiChoice Kenya.

Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KiPPRA), has pointed out shortcomings in the existing copyright laws, noting that they lack clear guidelines that protect, especially, film producers against digital piracy.

“Strengthen the institutional capacity of the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) to be able to harmonise licensing of films at the national and county levels. This will limit the hurdles film producers experience at every licensing stage,” KiPPRA says in its Policy Brief.

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