The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has moved to the Court of Appeal seeking to reverse a decision to award Sh10 million to a couple who had taken them to court over copyright infringement claims. NHIF used the couple’s photo to market on their social media pages without seeking their consent.
The insurer faulted High Court Judge Ann Ong’injo for awarding Joel Mutuma Kirimi and his wife Sharon Chepkorir Koskei on February 19,2019. NHIF said the judge erred in law as she did not take into the account the fact that the images were not used for commercial purposes.
The couple, who are lawyers, were awarded Sh5 million each after the court ruled that NHIF had breached their rights to privacy and human dignity by using their images for advertisements without their consent.
The couple took NHIF to court after it published their images on its social media pages including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for commercial advertisements.
The advertisements were published on various dates between February and April 2018 to promote NHIF’s health insurance scheme, SuperCover. The couple further told the court that the images had been obtained from Mr. Kirimi’s Facebook page.
“NHIF did not obtain their consent to use the image, establish whether they were a couple or make compensation,” Mr. Kirimi said. The incident, he said, had hurt their law career and eroded their public confidence.
In its defense, NHIF denied using the images for commercial purposes, as it is not engaged in commercial businesses. The insurer argued that it runs a “social insurance scheme for enhancing the State’s aim of universal and affordable healthcare.”
NHIF further claimed that it had obtained the images from pixabay.com, a website known for providing copyright free images and videos.
Mr. Kirimi and his wife, who had initially demanded Sh20 million, denied any knowledge of the website, adding that they had never posted their images there.