2018 Proposed Amendment to The Copyright Act

2018 Amendments to Copyright Act Kenya KECOBO Bill

The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2018 seeks to make various, wide-ranging amendments to existing intellectual property (IP) law-related statutes. The Bill contains proposed amendments to the following pieces of legislation: The Industrial Property Act, 2001 (No. 3 of 2001), The Copyright Act, 2001 (No. 12 of 2001), The Anti-Counterfeit Act, 2008 (No. 13 of 2008) and The Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions Act, 2016 (No. 33 of 2016). The Memorandum of Objects and Reasons for the Bill is signed by Hon. Aden Duale, Leader of Majority in the National Assembly and it is dated 29 March 2018. This blogpost will focus on the changes proposed to The Copyright Act.

As readers of this blog may know, the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2017 is currently pending before Parliament. In that Amendment Bill, the composition of Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) was left intact to the disagreement of some groups who oppose the apparently bloated list of Board Directors. In the 2018 amendment, it is proposed to reduce the number of Board Directors from 21 to 9 members. In this regard, it is proposed that the Chairperson of KECOBO be appointed by the President as opposed to the Cabinet Secretary.

Further, it is proposed that the Cabinet Secretary appoints ‘three persons each nominated by associations recognised by the Government as representing stakeholders in music, film and publishing respectively.’ The first concern with this category of Board Directors is that it is not fully representative of rights holders in all works eligible for copyright under the Act. Another concern is that this category appears to be broad enough in scope to include nominees who are either members of collective management organisations (CMOs), employees of CMOs or their Board Directors.

Finally, one wonders why the proposed composition of the Board does not include any representatives from ‘user groups’. By user groups, one may include universities, libraries, galleries, museums, archives, internet service/content service providers and other interested business owners.

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