Sights and Sounds of World IP Day 2015: The East African Edition

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Recently, countries around the world celebrated World Intellectual Property (IP) Day 2015 under the theme: “Get Up. Stand Up. For Music”. This blogger is pleased to report that Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania each held their own exciting events to mark World IP Day 2015.

Here are some of the important highlights:-

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Draft National Music Policy – Your Comments are Welcome

IPKenya has received the draft National Music Policy prepared under the Ministry of Gender, Sports, Culture and Social Services.

The full Draft policy is available here. Please read it, spread the word and submit your comments here. Deadline is this Friday, 15 June 2012. Hurry!

Quick comments:

For the record, IPKenya is not against the Policy per se. All are encouraged to engage with this policy document and form their own independent views and opinions on it. IPKenya is merely playing devil’s advocate, as always.

“Music Education and Training”

Under this heading in the draft policy, there is a bullet that reads “Facilitating the Patenting of Kenyan music materials and works of art.”
Several questions come to mind: 1) does the term “Kenyan music materials” mean local/indigenous musical instruments or sheet music of Kenyan origin and creation; 2) Why patent? They’re already in the public domain. Patents and the music industry just don’t mix. (pun attempted). This section needs to be revisited.

“Documentation and Archiving”

A feelgood provision but almost likely to be impossible due to lack of resources. Digitising Kenya’s music (both past and present) for documentation, preservation and dissemination will truly be a mammoth task. IPKenya suggests that more government funds be directed to the Kenya Copyright Board which is already building a digital repository of all copyright works registered in Kenya including music. Reportoires gathered from the three music CMOs should also be pooled with that of KECOBO.

“Media and Advertising”

The gist of this heading appears to be promoting Kenyan content (especially music), use of Kenyan talent and expertise in public including broadcasts and in public institutions.
This is a positive initiative but must be backed up with amendments to the Communication Act and other relevant media laws to provide for incentives to promoters of local content as well as stiff penalties for defaulters.

“The Music Industry”

Under this heading, the focus on the development of a vibrant and productive Music Industry. IPKenya concedes that the administration of music matters in the country is also scattered across various Government bodies without any clear jurisdictional boundaries. However regulation of the music industry should be largely industry driven through self-regulation with state regulation coming in at the level of law making and policy formulation and implementation.
In this regard, IPKenya notes the absence of a Musicians’ Union in Kenya which could draw inspiration from successful unions in Kenya including the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), Central Organisation for Trade Unions (COTU) and more recently the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU).

Overall, this Policy proposes that a body to be named The Music Commission of Kenya be created to implement this policy. IPKenya suspects that the drafters of this policy may have been inspired by jurisdictions such as New Zealand where a similar structure is in place. One wonders how effective such a structure will be in Kenya where government agencies such as KECOBO are overstretched, underfunded, understaffed and have their hands full with administration of copyright and related rights in music among other works.