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Busted! Inside Piracy Ring Tapping Top Football TV Channels

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The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) has dismantled a suspected criminal network of copyright infringers, mainly responsible for pirating top international football leagues in Kenya, in a coordinated crackdown with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

KECOBO Executive Director Edward Sigei says distributors of pirated material have been causing content creators huge losses for years. The raid has put on notice copyright infringers as the board adopts a zero-tolerance approach to the vice.

Decoders with EPL & Champions League

An organized piracy group operating under the business name SuperFlex Television was busted during the raid. Turns out that SuperFlex TV is one of the biggest piracy operators in Kenya responsible for online piracy and illegal content redistribution through a pan-African television network.

The group had obtained MultiChoice decoders, hacked into the system and obtained English Premier League (EPL), FA Cup and UEFA Champions League signals and distributed the content illegally via their servers. Two suspects who were arrested including the owner are expected to appear in court to faces charges related to piracy.

This year, KECOBO has enhanced the piracy war with the launch of Partners Against Piracy (PAP) in March 2020. The campaign as reports indicated that in most cases, content piracy was committed using illegal internet protocols which exposed innocent Kenyan customers to risk of malware.

“The campaign is aimed at educating Kenyans about the life-threatening dangers of engaging in piracy to themselves, their loved ones and society at large including young children,” said Mr Sigei.

The PAP campaign is a collaborative effort geared towards denying copyright infringers opportunity and access by enlightening the public on how to identify and avoid such products. This includes illegally selling published newspapers, books, art, music, sports events and movies.

Globally, the war on piracy is picking momentum. In August a criminal network of copyright-infringing hackers, mainly responsible for pirating movies and hosting illegal digital contents worldwide, was dismantled in a coordinated action between US authorities and their counterparts in 18 countries around the world, with Eurojust and Europol support.

According to the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (EUROJUST), more than 60 servers were taken down in North America, Europe and Asia and several of the main suspects were arrested. The alleged illegal activity was causing tens of millions of US dollars in losses annually mainly to the US movie, television, and supporting industries.

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The organised crime group called the ‘Sparks Group’ was one of the biggest ones in the world responsible for online piracy. They obtained legal copies of DVD and Blu-Ray disks of blockbuster movies, television shows, and other content in advance of their release dates, compromised their copyright protections and then uploaded and distributed the illegal copies via their servers operated.

The group hacked into Multichoice decoders and obtained football channels.

The content is then made available prior to its retail release date and further distributed via streaming websites, peer-to-peer networks, torrent networks, and other servers accessible to public, causing thus major losses to the film production industry.

As part of the Kenyan government’s determination to end piracy, the Copyright Amendment Act, signed into law in September 2019, introduced a number of new offences, which KECOBO in collaboration with stakeholders is working to enforce.

KECOBO says it will continue working with the relevant stakeholders at home and abroad to enforce protection of these rights.

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