Uncertain Future for Reprographic Rights in Kenya as KOPIKEN Collecting Society Registration Not Renewed

KOPIKEN Launch Collective Management Reproduction Rights Society of Kenya

In a public notice by Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) published on February 4th 2016, we are informed that KECOBO at its Board Meeting of January 28th 2016 considered the application for renewal of registration as a collecting society made by the Reproduction Rights Society of Kenya (Kopiken). After consideration of Kopiken’s application, KECOBO decided not to renew Kopiken’s registration. This means that as of January 1st 2016, there is no registered collecting society for reprographic rights in Kenya. In this regard, KECOBO in its public notice states as follows: “KECOBO will be consulting stakeholders of KOPIKEN to determine its future sometimes (sic) in March 2016.”
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Jurisdiction is Everything: Time to Merge Tribunals for Copyright, Industrial Property, Seed and Plant Varieties

tribunal judiciary kenya cms-image-000005230

As readers may know, a government taskforce had earlier recommended the merger of the three intellectual property (IP) offices dealing with copyright, industrial property and anti-counterfeit matters. The implementation of these recommendations appears to have stalled with no progress made to-date. In addition to the IP offices, there is also the matter of the various IP dispute resolution bodies created under the various IP laws: the Industrial  Property  Act establishes the Industrial  Property  Tribunal, the Copyright Act establishes the Competent Authority (akin to a Copyright Tribunal), the Anti-Counterfeit Act  establishes the Anti-Counterfeit Agency and the Seeds and Plant Varieties Act establishes the Seeds and Plant Tribunal.

Recently, the Judiciary Working Committee on Transition and Restructuring of Tribunals developed a Draft Tribunal Bill 2015 to help domicile all tribunals under the Judiciary. This is an important step that could benefit IP owners and users in the quick and expert settlement of various IP-related disputes.

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Some World Intellectual Property Day 2015 Posters from Africa

Map of World Intellectual Property Day 2015 Events

As the world prepares to mark World Intellectual Property (IP) Day this Sunday April 26th 2015, this blogger has come across several World IP Day posters from around the continent created to reflect this year’s theme: “Get Up. Stand Up. For Music”. According to the map of World Intellectual Property Day 2015 Events by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), there are only sixteen (16) confirmed World IP events being held in ten (10) countries across the continent. This blogger reckons that this represents a low turn-out by IP stakeholders across Africa’s fifty four (54) states given this year’s World IP Day theme and the importance of World IP Day activities and events for awareness creation and public sensitisation.

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World Intellectual Property Day 2015: “Get up, stand up. For Music.”

world intellectual property day 2015 poster get up stand up for music worldipday

“When Bob Marley and the Wailers laid down the opening track on Burnin’ in a Kingston recording studio some four decades ago, they likely had little idea how far their simple, straightforward tune would resonate, becoming an enduring international anthem for human rights.

Such is the power of music.” – WIPO, 2015.

The theme for World Intellectual Property (IP) Day 2015 is out: “Get up, stand up. For music”. In its press release, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) describes music as the “most universal of creative expressions” which “transcends borders and connects with some primal beat within all of us”. Through this theme, WIPO also appears to be paying tribute to the “inspiration and hard work of thousands of creative people around the world – singers and songwriters; musicians and publishers; producers, arrangers, engineers and many others” who are responsible for the music that we enjoy today.

This year’s World IP Day theme invites us all to explore some of the changes shaping the music industry today, and interact with those intimately involved in the business of making music about how they see the future. In this regard, WIPO asks:

“What is the future of our relationship with music? How will it be created and disseminated? How will we listen to it? And how will we ensure that all those involved in bringing us this universal pleasure can make a living from their craft?”

This blogger wishes everyone all the best as preparations to celebrate and reflect on this year’s #worldipday theme begin.

In the African context, this blogger highlighted Kenya’s successful 2014 World IP Day activities here and hopes that this year will be equally memorable.

International Women’s Day: Celebrating African Women Leaders in Intellectual Property

Angélique Kidjo won her 2nd Grammy Award in 2015. The world renowned Beninoise singer-songwriter is Vice President of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC). CISAC is the umbrella body for copyright societies worldwide.

Angélique Kidjo won her 2nd Grammy Award in 2015. The world renowned Beninoise singer-songwriter is Vice President of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC). CISAC is the umbrella body for copyright societies worldwide.

Celebrated globally on 8th March, this year’s International Women’s Day highlights the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights. The official United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!”

“When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all” – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message for International Women’s Day 2015.

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day (#IWD2015), this blogger has compiled a list of some of the (influential) women (leaders) in intellectual property (IP) from Kenya and throughout English-speaking Africa. The women listed below (in no particular order) are primarily drawn from IP offices, academia, non-governmental organisations and the IP legal fraternity.

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Copyright Board To Review Guidelines for Collective Management Organisations

This blogger has learned that KECOBO is in the process of the review its CMO Guidelines titled “Guidelines for Licensing Collective Management Organisations”. These CMO Guidelines are available on KECOBO’s website here. Therefore, this blogger hopes to provide an in-depth examination of the Guidelines while making comments on important areas and issues connected with the Guidelines.

In coming up with these Guidelines, KECOBO explains in the opening paragraph that it is mandated under the Act to license and supervise CMOs in Kenya so to ensure that CMOs carry out their core function, namely the collection and distribution of royalties. It is noteworthy that since 2011 when the Guidelines were introduced, KECOBO has been enforcing these Guidelines against CMOs despite the fact these guidelines have no force of law. It is therefore advisable that KECOBO causes the inclusion of these Guidelines in Regulations to be made by the Minister (Attorney General) under section 49 of the Act.

Notwithstanding the legal force of these Guidelines, this blogger has the following comments to make on the Guidelines:

1. Title: this blogger suggests that the title of the Guidelines be amended to include “and Supervising”.

2. Public Notice: KECOBO may wish to include a time frame within which notices shall be published to increase KECOBO’s accountability and transparency. In addition, KECOBO may wish to specify which platform(s) will carry the public notices eg. local dailies with national circulation, KECOBO’s official website, KECOBO notice board?

3. Licensing: In the spirit of transparency and accountability, KECOBO may consider including a time frame within which licenses shall be processed once all application documents are submitted.

4. New Applications: The requirement under (g) appears vague and KECOBO may consider specifying what documents would be required to satisfy that the applicant has the “capacity for collection and distribution of the royalties”.

5. Renewal of License: To avoid duplication of documents submitted by licensed CMOs, the requirements of (a) and (b) should be removed. In the alternative, the requirement (b) should be qualified for cases where the memorandum and articles of association have been amended.
With regard to requirement (i), submitting individual deeds of assignment for each and every member may be onerous for most CMOs due to the sheer bulk of documentation to be produced. At any rate, KECOBO may decide to verify the deeds during an inspection visit to ensure that it corresponds with the list of members submitted.

6. Revocation of a license: The CMO Guidelines have made several additions to the grounds provided under the Act. However the wording and punctuation of this list of grounds for revocation is ambiguous as it does not disclose whether all the ten (10) listed grounds must be present for revocation or whether the presence of one or several grounds is sufficient.

In sum, this blogger submits that the Guidelines play an important role of supplementing the existing legal provisions on licensing and supervision of CMOs found in the Copyright Act, 2001 and Copyright Regulations, 2004. However these Guidelines ought to be given the force of law in order for KECOBO to enforce them against CMOs.

Editor’s note: The author currently works with MCSK however the views, opinions and analyses expressed herein are solely those of the author and are not those of his employers, both past and present.