By Caroline Wanjiru
This post forms part 2 of our series on the Intellectual Property considerations in the Copyright Amendment Act. The IT considerations, focusing on digital rights will be addressed in a follow up series.
ISPs and Take Down Notices
Section 35B covers take down notices, their form, content, addressees etc. A take down notice is a request to an ISP by a copyright holder (complainant) to remove infringing content.
- The take down notice shall:
- Be in writing and addressed to the ISP or their agent.
- Contain the name and address of the complainant.
- Signed by or for the complainant.
- Contain specific details of the copyrighted works subject of infringement or which is to be removed.
- Identify the rights being infringed, for instance the broadcast, production rights etc.
- Set out the details of the content to be taken down and the location of this content.
- Be accompanied by a sworn statement attesting to the ownership of the content, validity of the rights under e) above, good faith on the complainant and the efforts (albeit unsuccessful attempts) made to the entities responsible for making the content available remove the content; and
- be copied to the Board Communication Authority and the recognized ISP umbrella body.
Comment: Conspicuously missing is a requirement to include the alleged infringer (who is the ISP subscriber hence the addressing of the notice to the ISP) in the notice to take down. Such inclusion would notify and provide an alleged infringer of the notice and the option to ‘challenge’ a take-down notice issued to their ISP. There exists a relationship between the ISP and their subscribers contractual or otherwise. The obligation to notify the subscriber, if any, shifts to the ISP (see below). It is not clear as to why such a requirement would be excluded yet the requirement of a sworn statement by the complainant would be presumptive that they have attempted to reach the alleged infringer to remove the infringing content. Would the subscriber not be entitled to demand to be heard before the notice is effected? If yes, at what point would they be heard yet the notice is to be effected within 48 hours? Article 47 of the Constitution of Kenya provides that every person has a right to fair administrative action, this right includes the right to be heard.
- A take down notice will be deemed delivered
- Next business day following physical delivery at an ISP’s registered office.
- 2 days after the day post if by registered post.
- Immediately if sent by electronically to a designated ISP address.
Comment: This provision has serious implication for the ISPs as it dictates when the 48 hours of compliance starts running. Where an ISP has provided a designated address, time starts running immediately a complainant sends it. It is not clear what would happen if there is delivery failure, if it is sent on a day that the ISP is closed for business or is even intercepted by a third party. While this blogger appreciates the fact that electronic transmission is instant, she acknowledges that there are circumstances that may interfere with the ISPs ability to receive the electronic notification. Legislating on time of delivery elevates time to a statutory requirement which carries weighty consequences. Time is truly of essence. However, having such a statutory requirement is an open invitation to breach. This is best left to the industry to regulate. The Board in charge of regulating ISPs may issue policy directions on the same therefore introducing implementation flexibilities.
- An ISP shall upon receipt of a valid take down notice, notify the person responsible for making the infringing content available and provide them with a copy as soon as is practicable.
Comment: This provision is vague, yet its content creates a duty for the ISP. The mandatory requirement, albeit on their cost, for the ISP to find or establish mechanisms within which to ‘notify’ an alleged infringer that they have received a takedown notice from the complainant. It’s unclear if the notification should be in the same manner as received from the complainant. For instance, if the takedown notice is received electronically, can the ISP notify the alleged infringer by mail? The latter would mean that time is substantially altered. Yet it is a possibility.
The notification should be immediate or as soon as is practicable. In light of subsection 5 which mandates an ISP to take down content within 48 hours, what is immediate? What takes precedence? Taking down the content or serving the notice on an alleged infringer? If this should be as soon as practicable, whose practicality is it? The complainant whose interest is to have the content taken down; the ISP whose primary interest would be first to serve their clients, must act within 48hours and disable access to the content; or the alleged infringer whose interest is to have the content online at all time and who may be benefiting economically from the content, who may require ‘reasonable’ time to file a counter notice? Lastly, if it is the ISP’s practicability, can they take down the content i.e. comply with the law and then serve notice later? The option of having the notice sent ‘as soon as is practical is ambiguous capable of more than one interpretation.Continue reading