Copyright News
Protecting Technologies that Create New
Sounds and New Ways to Access Music
By Howard Okiror
yberspace only started gath-
ering pace in the mid-1990s,
and its impact has been fast
and tremendous. Internet
penetration is nearing saturation, if
the numbers are anything to go by.
In Kenya, Internet penetration has
increased almost seven-fold making it
easier for people to use new technolo
gies either on their phones, tablets or
Many digital music platforms/
applications offering streaming and
download options have come up.
Examples of these are Soundcloud,
Boomplay, Songa, Viusasa, Mdundo,
Spotify, Audiomack, Youtube and
many others.
Most of the applications are free to
download in app stores while some
are downloaded at a fee. For one to
be able to stream or download music,
a subscription fee has to be paid
weekly, monthly or daily for some of
these platforms.
They have attracted very many
users around the globe since they make
it much easier for people to access
either local or international music
depending on one’s genre preference.
The creators of such applications have
to seek permission from the owner
of the music or audio-visual through
licensing agreements before placing it
on their platform to avoid infringing
on the owner’s copyright.
Creators of musical/audio visual
works have now found an alternative
means of generating revenue as the
subscription fees paid by the users are
calculated at a percentage and given
to the creators of musical/audio visual
works as royalties.
As many platforms find their
way into the scene, the need for
their protection against any forms
of infringement becomes a matter
of importance. Creators of such
platforms should be able to protect
their creations from infringement
through Intellectual Property laws to
make sure other people do not profit
from them.
Digital platforms have different
Intellectual Property Rights within
them i.e. the name, logo, design
and slogan can be trademarked,
the technology used in developing
the application can be patented and
the source code and layout can be
Every application is normally
designed with a unique source code
which allows it to run on the platform.
The source code is reduced to writing
and it is copyrighted as a literary work.
It must be original.
Copyright allows creators to enjoy
the economic fruits of their work
thus preventing unauthorised use.
Computer programmes/applications
fall under the works covered by
copyright under the Kenya Copyright
The Copyright (Amendment) Bill,
2017 has incorporated provisions of
the WIPO Copyright Treaty which
deals with the protection of works
and the rights of their authors in
the digital environment. It obliges
contracting parties to provide legal
remedies against the circumvention
of technological measures used by
authors in connection with exercise
of their rights and removal or altering
of information. Section 26(B) of the
Bill as read together with the Second
Schedule puts in place technological
protection measures.
Recently, the Computer and
Cybercrime Bill, 2017 was signed into
law. The Bill provides broad offences
against computers and other computer
- related offences.
The procedural safeguards to
investigate and prosecute these
offences are generally adequate.
Section 6 and 7 of the Bill makes
provisions for unauthorised dealing
in computer systems, programmes or
data and imposes hefty fines and jail
terms. This will offer protection to the
new technologies in place and those
coming up.
Create a Rational Tax System
for the Creative Sector
1. Q: Tell us about yourself and your
relationship with the creative
industry in Kenya.
A: I have been working as a musi-
cian in Kenya since 2004. My first
album came out on 2005. My work
so far has spanned film, theatre,
music and dance and later this year
I will release my 4th studio album
and hopefully a live project. I have
to say that it’s been a blessing to
have the opportunity to do what I
love and continuously be around
like minded people and projects.
I am looking forward to more and
more opportunities.
2. Q: What influenced you to enter
into the creative industry?
A: I know that it’s kind of cliché
to say this but the truth is I think
the industry chose me. Then I
was free and available enough to
attend things like rehearsals and
3. Q: In your opinion what are the
challenges facing the creative
industry and tell us some of the
mitigating approaches to these
A: The first thing to note is that the
creative industry doesn’t exist in a
vacuum. It’s an industry like any
other industry in Kenya and so is
affected by all other factors that
affect business in general.
For example, shortage and
cost of credit, the political envi-
ronment, peace and security, low
infrastructure development and so
on and so forth. However, there are
some things that are unique to the
creative industry that are opportu-
nities for growth.
For example, I think it’s impor-
tant that KRA and other govern-
ment agencies would work togeth-
er to create a rational tax system for
people working in the creative sec-
tor. Import duties and other levies
are making it very difficult to com-
pete globally. For instance, a guitar
bought in Kenya can cost double
the amount it costs outside Kenya
and there are no local manufactur-
ing alternative or even incentives to
create such a thing.
I could go on and on but I think
this gives a good picture of where
we can create lasting impact with a
few improvements.
4. Q: How can the government
encourage Kenyans especially the
youths to take creative industry as
a means to earn a living?
A: Like I said, first just better
tax policy but also more robust
engagements with the industry.
I don’t think there are enough
touch points and as a result some-
times the government and the
industry are working at cross pur-
5. Q: Any word to KECOBO..
A: Please never stop doing what
you do. And keep increasing your
KECOBO is actually the single
most important agency for the
creative industry. There’s no cre
ative industry if we cannot pro-
tect intellectual property. This is
sometime overlooked but copy
right enforcement is everything.
WE need KECOBO to be as big
and as effective as possible if we
are to survive as an industry. As
such your strong and loud voice on
issues is critical.
INTERVIEW: Dan Aceda, Kenyan Artist