Amnesty Campaign Launched to Fight Software Piracy in Kenya

Starting today for the next 30 days, the Kenya Copyright Board (KeCoBo), with the support of Microsoft East and Southern Africa have instituted an “amnesty” period whereby end-users running counterfeit software can “come clean” by discontinuing illegal use and acquiring genuine versions without penalty. The 30-day amnesty is a response to the growing threat of software piracy to Kenya’s economy – a crime which resulted in an estimated loss of 85 million dollars for the country last year. Microsoft, the world’s leading software company, is fully committed to this initiative and is offering discounts on genuine versions of some of its most popular software eg. Microsoft Office, Windows 7 Pro.

At the end of the amnesty period, Microsoft Anti-Piracy personnel will be back on the streets rooting out offenders and reporting them to KECOBO, which will enforce the necessary legal action prescribed by law.
It is hoped that the users who have pirated software will take advantage of the amnesty period to ensure that they purchase and install the genuine versions of Microsoft software.

Microsoft East and Southern Africa via it’s twitter page “@MicrosoftEA” is using the hashtag “#AntiPiracyKE” to spread information about the 30 day Amnesty Campaign and here are some important tid-bits you should know:

– Microsoft Anti-Piracy Hotline: +254 286 8299 – where any suspected counterfeit software can be reported & authenticated. Or use this email address: reportpiracy@microsoft.com

– Microsoft ‘Clean Dealer’ Program is for trusted & verified resellers who have entered into an agreement to sell only genuine software. What to know more? Visit the Microsoft page here.

– Microsoft recommends visiting its anti-counterfeiting site, http://www.howtotell.com, for tips and tricks for how to spot and avoid illegal software.

Comments:

The choice to have Microsoft East and Southern Africa’s regional headquarters in Kenya was strategic. Kenya has a business-friendly climate and has a rapidly expanding ICT sector powered by both private and public sectors. However, Microsoft continues to incur huge losses running into millions of dollars due to piracy of its software and counterfeiting of its trademarks. To address these challenges, Microsoft continues to work closely with the two government IP enforcement bodies in Kenya: KECOBO and ACA. Prior to this “Come Clean” Campaign, KECOBO and Microsoft ran an operation a few years back targetting cyber-cafes (internet cafes) getting them to regularise their software licenses.

With this new Amnesty Campaign, the focus is primarily on creating awareness about the prevalence of software piracy in Kenya. The “Clean Dealer Program” launched by Microsoft seeks to provide all users with a list of authorised dealers and re-sellers of Microsoft software countrywide. These “clean dealers” will facilitate the exchange of counterfeit software for genuine Microsoft software and educate users on the overwhelming number of “high quality” counterfeit software in the market.
According to the latest Business Software Alliance (BSA) 2010-2011 Report, the level of software piracy in Kenya has dropped since 2007 from 83% to 79%. However with the global average piracy levels at 42%, there is a lot that needs to be done both in awareness and enforcement through existing as well as new public-private partnerships.

IP Crammer 2011: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Intellectual Property in Kenya

Afro Leo a.k.a the Lion that tweets has let the cat out of the bag about this year’s IP Crammer which I assume will be similar to a previous one he attended.

Anyways, his roar to African IP observers and commentators in regard to the IP Crammer was loud and clear:

“What are the top IP stories on the continent this year?”

Well, speaking specifically of Kenya’s IP space, it’s been a mixed bag of good and bad news.

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Southern and Eastern Africa Copyright Network (SEACONET) 2011 Expert Meeting

The South and Eastern Africa Copyright Network shall be holding a meeting hosted by the Kenya Copyright Board from July 18 to 20, 2011. The purpose of the meeting is to finalise the Draft Model Law for East and Southern Africa.

This is a follow up meeting to one that was hosted by the US Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) in Johannesburg in January this year. The experts include Mr. Serman Chavula, of SEACONET, Ms Dora Salamba, the Administrator, Copryight Society of Malawi (COSOMA), Mrs Nkah Monyatsi of the African Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) Mr, Joel Baloyi and Expert from South Africa, Ms Tsitsi Mariwo an expert from Zimbabwe, Mr. Benjamin Hardman from the USPTO and KECOBO Executive Director Dr. Marisella Ouma.

During the three day workshop, the experts will work on a Draft Model Law which shall be adopted by SEACONET.

Background of SEACONET:
The Southern and Eastern Africa Copyright Network (SEACONET) was formally launched by ministers responsible for copyright matters from the sub-region on 30th May, 2008. This was preceded by a consultative meeting of officials from copyright offices and copyright societies held on 28th and 29th May, 2008.

What is SEACONET?
A network of copyright offices, collective management organizations, rights holder organizations and other organizations that are interested in copyright and related rights issues. A sub-regional platform for sharing information from a broad perspective on issues of copyright and related rights. Membership is open to countries in Southern and Eastern Africa. The member countries include Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

NB: SEACONET’s work is not aimed at duplicating but complimenting the work of WIPO, ARIPO, SADC, COMESA, and East African Community (EAC) in the field of copyright and related rights.