Last month, the President signed Executive Order No. 1 of 2018 on the Organisation of Government which, inter alia, assigned functions and institutions among Ministries and State Departments. One interesting new change in the structure of the Government is that Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) and Kenya Film Commission (KFC) are now listed under the State Department for Broadcasting and Telecommunications in the ICT Ministry. In addition the Ministry’s functions now includes overall responsibility for policies on film development in Kenya and the development of the country’s film industry.
This may all seem like a mundane bureaucratic detail but in reality it may well represent a fundamental shift in Kenya’s approach to the development of the creative economy and the important contribution of the film industry. But like every good story, there is a plot twist: the only thing that KFCB and KFC seem to agree on is that they are better off separate than together. Lately, the two lead film agencies have been at loggerheads (see video clips here and here) over how best the film industry should be regulated for the development of this vital pillar of the creative and cultural industries.
On 16 May 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured above) assented to the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill, 2018. The Bill was passed by the National Assembly on 26 April 2018. Readers of this blog will note that, unlike the previous Computer and Cybercrimes Bill, 2017 that was first tabled in Parliament, the Act now contains some new provisions relating to blockchain, mobile money, offences related to cybersquatting, electronic messages, revenge porn, identity theft and impersonation, as well as the newly created National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee. A copy of the Act is available here.
From an intellectual property (IP) perspective, the Act is significant for several reasons, including that it creates new offences and prescribes penalties related to cyber-infringements, it regulates jurisdiction, as well as the powers to investigate search and gain access to or seize items in relation to cybercrimes. It also regulates aspects of electronic evidence, relative to cybercrimes as well as aspects of international cooperation in respect to investigations of cybercrimes. Finally it creates several stringent obligations and requirements for service providers. Continue reading
Yesterday the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) posted this response in the comments section of our blogpost last week titled: ‘Controversial 2018 Proposed Amendments to The Anti-Counterfeit Act’. In the face of widespread criticism from intellectual property (IP) experts, ACA has defended its proposed amendments to the Anti-Counterfeit Act which, if enacted, would effectively introduce a system for mandatory ‘recordation’ of trade marks, copyright and plant breeders rights to be administered by ACA.
Prior to writing that blogpost, this blogger had reached out to ACA for an official comment asking the following question: ‘What is your response to public concerns about the implications of the draft amendments to your Act on 1) the mandates of Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) and Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO); 2) ease of doing business in Kenya generally; 3) international best practice?’ All the various responses from ACA will be considered in this blogpost.
Previously we reported here that several members of Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) had filed a case in the Commercial Division of the High Court challenging a license pertaining to the caller ringback tones (CRBT) service known as “Skiza Tunes” owned by mobile network operator, Safaricom issued by the three music collective management organisations (CMOs) including MCSK.
While the outcome of this commercial suit is still pending, we have come across a recently delivered judgment in the case of Petition No. 350 of 2015 David Kasika & 4 Ors v. Music Copyright Society of Kenya in which several MCSK members alleged that the collection of royalties by MCSK under the CRBT license agreement in question violates their constitutional rights, that the making available of works for download on Safaricom’s CRBT service amounts to a private performance as such section 30A of the Copyright Act does not apply and thus the CMOs cannot collect royalties on behalf of its members as required under the section. Finally, the petition invited the court to weigh in on several damning allegations made regarding mismanagement by MCSK in its collection and distribution of members’ royalties.
This blogpost has been prompted by two recent developments in Kenya and Namibia. In Kenya, the High Court recently delivered a ruling in the case of Music Copyright Society of Kenya Limited & another v Multichoice (K) Limited & another  eKLR in which the court dismissed the copyright infringement suit filed by the collective management organisation MCSK against Multichoice. Meanwhile in Namibia, a recent report here reveals one of the reasons why Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) which receives royalties from Multichoice has failed to distribute them to other concerned African copyright societies.
Where to begin?
Section 6(a) of the Copyright Act states that the Board of Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) shall consist of “a chairman, who shall be appointed by the Minister from amongst the members of registered copyright societies”. The Copyright Act as read with the Interpretation and General Provisions Act defines “Minister” as the Attorney-General who is “the Minister for the time being responsible for matters relating to copyright and related rights.” Under Article 156(4)(a) of the Constitution of Kenya states that the Attorney-General is the “principal legal adviser to the Government” which presumes that the A-G, in the case of public appointments, would have been consulted on their legality or lack thereof especially where those appointments touch on the A-G’s own docket!
“Whereas the President had the power to appoint the Chairman of the Anti-Counterfeit Agency, that appointment had to be in compliance with the Constitution and the relevant Legislation since, as I have stated herein above, the President in undertaking his executive functions does so on behalf of the people of the Republic of Kenya and has to bow to the will of Kenyans as expressed in their document delegating their sovereign powers to inter alia the executive, the Constitution. It is the Constitution which sets out the terms under which the delegated sovereign power is to be exercised and those to whom the power is delegated must adhere to it…” – Excerpt from the Judgment by Mr. Justice G.V. Odunga on December 16th 2015.
Towards the end of December 2015, the High Court, in one of its boldest judgments yet, struck down President Kenyatta’s appointment of Polycarp Igathe as Chairman of the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA). Last month, the Cabinet Secretary for Industrialisation and Entreprise Development responded to the High Court judgment by (re-)appointing Igathe as ACA Chairman vide Gazette Notice No. 368 published on January 22nd 2016.
**Update (08/02/16): This blogger has been reliably informed that the above (re-)appointment of Igathe by the Cabinet Secretary has been challenged and an order of stay has been issued by the High Court. More details to follow.