News and Updates
By Galgallo Fayo
Safaricom has reached a multi-million- shilling settlement with musician John Boniface Maina, popularly known as JB Maina, which is set to end a protracted legal battle over use of the singer’s ringtones. JB Maina will get Sh15.5 million as compensation for the alleged use of his 10 songs as ringtones through the telecommunication firm’s “Skiza” tunes and “Surf 2 Win Promotion” without his knowledge — a charge that Safaricom denied.
“I JB Maina… being the plaintiff herein and having been informed of the offer from the defendant, Safaricom, to pay Sh15.5 million… I hereby authorise the firm of Gikunda Miriti and Co. Advocates, who are my advocates in the matter, to apply for the case to be marked as settled,” says Mr. Maina in a document filed in court. Safaricom will pay the compensation within 21 days from Monday, the day when the consent was adopted, failure to which he can move back to court to compel payment of the sum.
The deal settles a suit that at one time last year saw the musician seek contempt of court proceedings against Safaricom and other defendants in the case. The High Court in May last year restrained Safaricom from storing and selling Mr. Maina’s Kikuyu songs and directed the mobile company to grant the musician access to its head office for him make copies of all purchases and sales records of his songs. But Mr. Maina says Safaricom did not comply with the court order, prompting the contempt of court suit.
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The Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) held its first Open Day on Friday 28th February 2014 at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC). The theme of the event was “Promotion Of Intellectual Property Rights To Drive A Knowledge Economy”.
Dr. Wilson Songa, the Principal Secretary - Ministry of Industrialisation, was the Chief Guest and noted that the primary goal of the event was to educate the public on the importance of Intellectual Property (IP) as a key roadmap to attaining Vision 2030.
Dr. Songa added that Kenya needs to protect the knowledge generated by industries, tertiary institutions and traditional knowledge as this will spur the growth of the economy. He also noted that the government had plans to develop an IP policy that would stimulate effective creation, use, development, stimulation and management of IP for economic growth.
On his speech, Dr Henry K. Mutai, KIPI Managing Director, indicated that the organisation had processed 3,988 trademark applications in 2013 compared to 3,458 trademark applications in 2012 marking a 15% increase. He also added that 3,361 trademark applications were successful in 2013 compared to 3, 160 applications in 2012 marking a 6% increase.
Dr. Mutai outlined plans by KIPI to partner with schools, colleges and the Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) sector to disseminate knowledge on IP. He further added that KIPI was in the process of developing a program with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the County of Kisii to benefit soap stone sculptors following the successful Soap Stone Symposium held in Kisii in 2011.
The event gave the public an opportunity to understand the role of KIPI. The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), a key partner with KIPI also exhibited during the Open Day with a total of 85 people visiting the KECOBO stand to learn about copyright and how it relates to trademarks, patents and industrial designs.
On Thursday 12th June 2014, the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) destroyed about three tonnes of confiscated copyright infringed works at the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Centre situated at the National Youth Service (NYS) Headquarters in Ruaraka, Nairobi. Amongst impounded materials were compact disks, music CDs, movie DVDs, duplicators, VHS machines, television broadcast decoders and receivers used in the illegal transmission of broadcast signals.
Piracy is a major threat to copyright works and continues to negatively affect the book, software and music industries denying them huge revenues.
Speaking during the event, Dr. Marisella Ouma, KECOBO Executive Director, noted that piracy has reached alarming levels due to impunity. In addition, she said that the current copyright law is too lenient and should be amended.
“Kenyans think that they do not have to pay for entertainment because it is not a necessity. We are advocating for people to pay for entertainment like they do with other non-essential commodities such as a car,” she said.
Last year KECOBO investigated a total of 136 piracy related cases and prosecuted 153 offenders who either paid fines or were sentenced to jail.
It is estimated that the music and film industry piracy in Kenya has reached over 90 per cent. To curb this KECOBO is actively monitoring various illegal online download sites that offer these pirated works. Most of these illegal sites are foreign based; subsequently KECOBO has liaised with several foreign copyright agencies to take them down.
The book and software industries have also been affected by piracy in Kenya. In relation to software, companies are urged to ensure they purchase genuine software for their operations. KECOBO has partnered with various software companies such as Microsoft & Autodesk and netted over 25 corporate organisations with illegal software on their computers and prosecuted them accordingly.
In conclusion Dr Ouma noted that, “The high level of piracy is an impediment to growth and development of the creative industries in Kenya. Pirates are sadly living off other people’s intellectual property and this will change in the very future”.
On Thursday 12th June 2014, the Kenya Copyright Board and Craft Afrika held the 10th edition of the Jumpstart Thursday titled “Copyright & Crafts: How To Protect Designs In The Crafts Sector”.
This discussion was timely as it came at a time when the Irish fashion designer, Penny Winter, had threatened a group of Kenyan women who make jewellery under the name Amani Craft, asking them to stop "making African jewellery and beads made from paper".
Among the panel of experts were Dr. Marisella Ouma, KECOBO Executive Director, Victor Nzomo, IP Kenya, Caroline Mbindyo, Kenya Film and Professional Association and Esther Clombaine. In attendance were over seventy (70) Craftprenuers.
The event focused on a quote by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that states;
"The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but to promote the progress of science and useful arts”.
To this end, it means that copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work. This result is neither unfair nor unfortunate. It is the means by which copyright advances the progress of science and art.
Dr. Ouma reminded the Craftprenuers that once one has registered his/her work under copyright, the burden of proof shifts to the infringer to disprove ownership. She reminded the Craftprenuers that registration of works makes it easy for the board to prosecute cases in case of infringement. She further added that once an idea has been put into any tangible form, it is automatically protected by copyright.
Dr. Ouma noted that whereas Trademark registration may take up to 6 months, Copyright registration takes only 7 days before a notification certificate is issued as proof of registration.
Mr. David Muriithi, a KECOBO Board Member, added that in this age of internet, one needs to understand their business model, weigh their costs versus their benefits of the business. He added that Craftprenuers needed to discuss issues on valuation of their work and also about financing. Thus he called on the Craftprenuers to engage Intellectual Property lawyers before engaging in any binding agreements as such a move could make the difference between a lifetime protection of works or the loss of millions in royalties.
A follow up to this event will be held in another Jumpstart Thursday on the 14th August 2014 at Shalom House, Ngong Road, Nairobi.
The 7th Annual Broadcast, Film and Music Africa (BFMA) conference was held in Nairobi on Tuesday 27th and Wednesday 28th May 2014 at the Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC).
The theme of the event was “Afriwood Rising” and was aimed at provoking and encouraging Africa’s creative, media and technology industries into thinking and acting regionally with creative content and digital media as the focal point. It was noted that the Broadcast, Film and Music industries are increasingly developing synergies and merging through the power of electronic media.
The event was organised by African Information Technology Exhibitions and Conferences (AITEC) Africa. In attendance were various broadcasters, filmmakers, animators, musicians, computer game developers, policy-makers, journalists, researchers, lawyers, entrepreneurs and investors in the creative sector.
An analysis of the music industry was done with keen examination on how globalisation is affecting the industry and the challenges of cultural colonisation. The discussion also focused on regulatory and industry initiatives regarding intellectual property, broadcasting rights, licensing and the required legal framework towards the development of using the new technology to block piracy. Ms Helen Koki represented the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) in this discussion panel.
The event also paid special focus to animation, gaming and digital applications (apps) development sectors. According to Sean Moroney, Chairman of AITEC Africa and Director of BFMA, they expected that discussions with the gamers would be a springboard towards identifying and harnessing new and young talents in the circles of animation and technology.
During the African Media Business Exchange programme session, discussions were held on the new trends in Internet Protocol (IP) broadcasting targeting the journalists. Also incorporated in the event was the Filmmakers Pavilion with a package of workshops on film production and studio installation, lighting equipment and technology.
- AFRIKA HANDMADE SYMPOSIUM, JACARANDA HOTEL (02.10.2014)