Hon Kahinda Otafiire (outgoing Chair Council of Ministers) handing over to the Incoming Chair Council of Ministers Hon Margaret Mwanakatwe – Lusaka, Zambia November 2015
Readers may know that last week the 39th and the 15th Sessions of the Administrative Council and Council of Ministers of African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) respectively, took place in Lusaka, Zambia.
Zambia’s Minister of Commerce Margaret Mwanakatwe opened the 39th Session which saw Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) Chief Executive Officer Anthony Bwembya take over as Chairperson of the ARIPO Administrative Council.
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.
Most IP observers will concur that in the recent past the related rights collecting societies namely Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and Performers’ Rights Society of Kenya (PRiSK) have done exceedingly well for themselves in the area of legislative and policy reforms by leveraging on the goodwill from Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO). As a result, KAMP and PRiSK have been the major beneficiaries of consecutive amendments to the Copyright Act and Copyright Regulations in 2012, 2014 and now 2015.
Recently, the Attorney General made Copyright Amendment Regulations which expressly deal with the private copying levy or blank tape levy payable to KAMP and PRiSK under sections 28 and 30 respectively of the Copyright Act. In addition, the Attorney General has also recently approved and gazetted the tariffs to be used by KAMP and PRiSK to collect royalties from various categories of users including broadcasters, telecommunications companies, service providers, business premises and vehicles both public as well as corporate.
Recently, the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Bill, 2015 was published in Kenya Gazette Supplement No. 165 (Bills No. 58). The Bill seeks to one section of the Copyright Act, namely section 30(8). A copy of this Bill is available here (See pages 3229-3230). This proposed amendment inserts the following words at the end of the section: “and the compensation shall be collected by the Board and distributed to the respective copyright collecting society registered under section 46.”
According to the Memorandum of Objects and Reasons in the Bill, the proposed amendment to section 30(8) is intended to provide for structured compensation of performers and producers of sound recordings for private copying of works in line with international norms and practices.
In recent media reports here and here, Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) reveals that it has proposed draft legal provisions to deal with the liability of internet/online intermediaries. KECOBO Chief Legal Counsel (CLC) has been kind enough to share with this blogger a copy of the proposed draft legal provisions available here. KECOBO CLC has also indicated to this blogger that there are plans underway to hold a public forum in the coming months to discuss the draft provisions and receive comments from the public.
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.
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.