High Court Declares Section 30A of the Copyright Act Unconstitutional and CMO License Agreement Unlawful

safaricom-skiza-tunes-sokodirectory

This blogger has come across a recent judgment in the case of Mercy Munee Kingoo & Anor v. Safaricom Limited & Anor [unreported] Malindi High Court Constitutional Petition No. 5 of 2016 delivered by Mr. Justice S.J Chitembwe on 3rd November 2016. At the heart of this Petition was the claim that section 30A of the Copyright Act is unconstitutional. This Petition raised two important issues for determination: firstly, whether the petition is ‘res judicata’ in light of two earlier decided High Court Petitions (discussed previously here and here) in which section 30A was not found to be unconstitutional and secondly, whether the amendment of the Copyright Act and introduction of section 30A is unconstitutional for failure to observe the principles of public participation.

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High Court Rules New Tobacco Law on Packaging, Labelling and Disclosure Does Not Violate Intellectual Property Rights

British American Tobacco Kenya

Previously, this blogger reported here that the High Court had suspended the coming into force of the Tobacco Control Regulations 2014 made by the Cabinet Secretary for Health scheduled to take effect on 1st June 2015. Recently in the case of British American Tobacco Kenya Ltd v Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Health & 4 others [2016] eKLR, Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi (known to many readers for her landmark decision on anti-counterfeit law and access to medicines here) delivered a judgment at the High Court dismissing claims by ‘Big Tobacco’ that their constitutional rights including intellectual property (IP) rights are being violated by the new Tobacco Regulations.

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Netflix in Kenya, Africa – A Fix for Copyright Piracy?

Netflix in Kenya website screenshot homepage

This week, Netflix, the popular American multinational subscription video on demand (SVoD) internet streaming media service provider announced that it’s service has gone live globally. Kenya is among 130 countries that can now access internet streaming TV from Netflix. In Kenya, Netflix is now available via their official website: https://www.netflix.com/ke/  which means that for one monthly price Kenyan consumers can sign up to enjoy Netflix original series as well as its huge catalog of licensed TV shows and movies simultaneously with the rest of the world. As of October 2015, Netflix had 69.17 million subscribers globally, including more than 43 million in the United States of America.

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Blind Opposition to Caller Ringtone Deal between Safaricom and Collecting Societies: High Court Case of Irene Mutisya & Anor v. MCSK & Anor

Robert Collymore CEO Safaricom

This blogger has recently come across Nairobi High Court Civil Case No. 262 of 2015 Irene Mutisya & Anor v. Music Copyright Society of Kenya & Anor. In this case Mutisya and another copyright owner Masivo have filed suit against Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) and mobile network operator Safaricom Limited for copyright infringement. The copyright owners filed an urgent application on 30th July 2015 for a temporary injunction to restrain Safaricom from remitting license fees to MCSK pursuant to a recently concluded license agreement for caller ring-back tones (CRBT) made available through Safaricom’s Skiza platform. The copyright owners also asked the court to restrain both Safaricom and MCSK from implementing the CRBT License Agreement pending the hearing of the application.

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Legality of Equitable Remuneration Challenged: High Court Petition of Xpedia & 4 Ors v. Attorney General & 4 Ors

equitable remuneration

Editor’s Note: On 31st July 2015, the urgent application in this Petition No.317 of 2015 dated 29th July 2015 was heard and certain interim orders were granted. A copy of the orders is available here.

This blogger has confirmed a recent media report that two content service providers and three copyright owners have jointly filed a petition challenging the constitutionality of the right to equitable remuneration under the now infamous section 30A of the Copyright Act. The Petition was filed against the Attorney General, Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP), Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRiSK) and Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK).

As stated above, the crux of the Petition filed by Xpedia Management Limited, Liberty Afrika Technologies Limited, Elijah Mira, Francis Jumba and Carolyne Ndiba is that KAMP, PRiSK and MCSK should be stopped by the court from receiving or collecting royalties under section 30A of the Copyright Act in respect of works owned or claimed by the Petitioners.

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Test Case on Liability for Online Copyright Infringement: Music Industry Players Sue ISPs, Telcos and Government

sauti sol sura yako

This blogger has recently come across the case of Bernsoft Interactive & 2 Ors v. Communications Authority of Kenya & 9 Ors Petition No. 600 of 2014, a recently filed constitutional petition seeking injunctive orders to compel internet service providers (ISPs) in Kenya to block websites engaged in piracy and declaratory orders that the State has failed in its constitutional and legal obligations to protect the intellectual property rights of Kenyans. The state organs that are targetted in this Petition including the telecommunications regulator, Communications Authority of Kenya; the copyright office, Kenya Copyright Board and the principal legal advisor to the Government, the Office of the Attorney General. A copy of the petition is available in .pdf here.

The major ISPs (in terms of the number of subscribers in Kenya) have all been enjoined in the suit including: Safaricom, Airtel, Jamii Telecom, Wananchi Group, Access Kenya, Liquid Telecom and Telkom Kenya.

The petitioners cite the infamous site: http://www.wapkid.com which allows users to illegally download sound recordings and audio-visual works online. The ISPs are accused of allowing its subscribers to use its internet networks to illegally acquire copyright works through sites such as wapkid. In this connection, it is alleged that the ISPs allow the transmission in digital form, these copyright protected music through their networks and into, and out of, the personal computers, phones and various gadgets that are used for online copyright piracy.

wapkid sauti sol

To illustrate its claims, the Petition submits into evidence the above screenshot of a Wapkid page linking to the location where one of the Petitioner’s members, Sauti Sol’s musical work known as “Sura Yako” is hosted. Through the “premium” or “free” options on the wapkid site, the user can download the unauthorized copy of Sauti Sol’s audiovisual work to his/her computer or phone or tablet for unlimited viewing or further distribution.

The matter came up for hearing before High Court Justice Lenaola earlier this month.

This blogger commends the petitioners for their efforts and will be closely following the developments in this case.

Strathmore to Host World Intellectual Property Day 2014 Events in Kenya

world ip day 2014 poster

Strathmore University’s Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) has been at the centre of Kenya’s preparations for this year’s World Intellectual Property (WIP) Day celebrations on 26th April 2014. This blogger has previously discussed here the significance of this year’s WIP Day for Kenya. The programme for the day is available here. The celebrations will run from 8.30 a.m to 5.00 p.m and will involve three concurrent events, namely the IP Pavilion, the IP Workshop and the IP Moot Competition. To top it off, there will be a public screening of the award-winning film, “The Prestige”.

The IP Pavilion will be a tented area for exhibitors to carry out public outreach. Attendees of the WIP Day events will have time to visit The Pavilion and meet the various exhibitors.

The IP Workshop will delve into the theme of WIP Day 2014, which is “Movies – A Global Passion.” Speakers will include representatives from the Kenya Copyright Board, Department of Film Services, Kenya Film Commission, Kenya Film Classifications Board, Kenya Film & Television Professionals Association, and experienced Intellectual Property Lawyers in the creative industry.
Venue: Main Auditorium.
Tentative program:
9.45 – 10.45 am: Intellectual Property Rights in Film
10.45 – 11.00 am: Presentation on Copyright and Film Industry
11.30 – 1.00 pm: Discussion Forum on the Dissection of the Film Industry in Kenya

The IP Moot Competition will provide a platform for exposing law students to Intellectual Property Rights, and is the first of its kind anywhere in Kenya. The IP Moot Competition questions and rules are available here.
CIPIT has registered 18 teams from 9 law schools. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya will be closing the event and handing out prizes.
Venue: morning activities to be in assigned classrooms, afternoon activities in Main Auditorium.
Tentative program:
9.45 – 1.00 pm: Initial Round
1.00 – 2.00 pm: Lunch
2.00 – 3.15 pm: Semi-final Round
3.30 – 4.30 pm: Final Round
4.30 – 5.00 pm: Closing and Presentation of Prizes

CIPIT is confident that there will be a good turnout for the WIP Day events, including media coverage, participation by Kenya’s two national IP offices, KIPI and KECOBO, as well as a visit from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya.

This blogger salutes CIPIT, IP Checkin, Kikao IP and the entire organizing committee and looks forward to a memorable WIP Day 2014.