Significant win in fight against piracy as Tanzanian Court fines content pirates

MultiChoice Group, Africa’s leading entertainment provider, and Irdeto, the world leader in digital platform cybersecurity, recently celebrated a milestone in the fight against piracy on the African continent.

Tanzanian court has found the runners of a wide piracy network guilty on the charges of content piracy; a move that is considered a win in the fight to eliminate illegal pirate networks harming the continents’ entertainment industry.
The Karagwe District Court in Kagera, Tanzania has recently penalized two Tanzanians – David Peter Sembosi and Sebastian John each to pay a fine of TZS 20,000,000 or face a 5-year jail sentence after being found guilty of content piracy contrary to the country’s cyber-Crimes laws.

The investigation conducted by the cybercrime unit established that the professionally run illegal website was viewed not only in Tanzania but in other countries with an estimated 200,000 visits monthly.

Content of DStv, a Sub-Saharan African direct broadcast satellite service owned by MultiChoice, were offered through an illegal website to provide access to subscription-based content. The website offered its subscribers illicit passwords to access the DStv services to view content.

The outcome of the investigation and the ruling is considered a big step forward in the war against content piracy which is growing by day in Tanzania.

Copyright infringement in Tanzania costs the broadcasting business greatly as the investors fail to realize the desired return on investment as well as huge loss in terms of government revenues. Since content piracy is illegal, the pirates are not licensed hence do not pay any government levy.

Commenting on the outcome of the case, MultiChoice Tanzania Managing Director Jacqueline Woiso said copyright infringement has been a serious threat to the business in Tanzania and is also denying the government significant revenue.

“We are happy with the ruling, and we believe that our legal bodies will continue to make sure that laws are enforced for the benefit of not only operators, but also the Government and the African creative industry at large.”
She said the ruling will be an alert for all those involved in copyright infringement acts and urged all parties to play their role in the fight against content piracy.

“We need to increase cooperation for all parties including operators and regulators because the offenders keep advancing their techniques” she said adding that heavy penalties are necessary to deter these illegal acts.

Shane McCarthy, COO of Video Entertainment at Irdeto commented “When looking at a loss in these cases, you need to consider the companies that produce the content, those who legitimately pay to subscribe, but most importantly, how it directly affects the economy and the people of Tanzania”.

He further commended law enforcement organs in Tanzania saying that the courts have sent a clear message that they will not tolerate copyright infringement, and Irdeto will continue to support the industry in the investigation against illegal app developers and Internet streaming pirate device suppliers and prosecuting groups that enable such actions. “There will never be a safe haven for pirates, no matter where they are,” he insisted.

The deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture Arts and Sports Said Yakubu was recently quoted “We have received several complaints regarding copyright infringements especially content piracy in broadcasting. I urge the relevant authority especially COSOTA to take up the matter and ensure law enforcement. We have been informed of serious content piracy especially sports and film content. We understand that there are broadcasters with exclusive right on certain content. It is important that such rights are respected by all players to avoid chaos it the market”
He said that the Government is aware that content piracy is among the major challenges facing the industry and in addressing this the government has formed a special committee to review the status of copyright law enforcement in Tanzania and propose the best way forward in order to safeguard the copyright owners.

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