Conference: Enhancing the Culture of Reading and Books in the Digital Age – Copyright as a Means to Foster Creativity and Access in Africa

MDG : Kilgris Project in Kenya (?): Student with a tablet

What has happened to reading in the age of the Internet? Will the digital age put an end to the culture of reading and books that has been nurtured over centuries?

In association with the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), the Kenya National Library Service (KNLS), Kopiken, the Kenyan Publishers Association (KPA) and the Kenyan Writers Union (KWU), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Publishers Association (IPA) and the International Authors Forum (IAF) and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) are organising a two day conference on ‘The Culture of Reading and Books in the Digital Age’ to address these issues.

The conference will take place on May 3rd and 4th at the Laico Regency Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya. It seeks to show the ways in which libraries, writers, publishers and RROs, the collectives in the print and publishing sector, can foster a culture of reading in the age of digital information and communication technologies.

The programme looks at traditional and innovative means of access to copyrighted works, including e-books, online licensing and emerging technical platforms, and debates the role of exclusive rights and fairly balanced copyright exceptions and limitations in fostering creativity and promoting access in the coming information age when all the people become writers as well readers.

Some of the participants at this meeting include:

– Ingrid Parent (President IFLA)
– Magdalena Vinent (President, IFRRO)
– Olav Stokkmo (CEO, IFFRO)
– Michiel Kolman (Member of Executive Committee, IPA)
– Penny Grubb (Representative of IAF)
– Geidy Lung (Senior Legal Officer, WIPO)
– Keitseng Nkah Monyatsi (Copyright Officer, ARIPO)
– Dr. Marisella Ouma (Executive Director, KECOBO)
– Sharon Chahale (General Manager, KOPIKEN, Kenya)
– Nothando Migogo (Managing Director, DALRO, South Africa)
– Greenfield Chilongo (Executive Director, Zimcopy, Zimbabwe)

Some of the topics that will be addressed include:

– International legal frameworks for the protection of copyright and related rights in the digital environment
– The importance of copyright to society
– Literacy, publishing, libraries and reading
– Providing access to copyright works
– Digitisation of cumulative knowledge and cultural heritage
– Access for users with print disabilities
– Cooperation to enhance accessibility to copyright works


IPKenya is hoping to attend this meeting. If anyone else is available and willing to attend, kindly get in touch with me. Spaces are limited.

The Competent Authority: Behold! Kenya’s New Copyright Tribunal

During the Second Reading of the Copyright Bill on November 20, 2001, the following statement was made by the Deputy House Speaker recorded in the Hansard at page 3186:

“the competent authority will act as an arbiter between the Board and the members.”

Section 48 (1) of Kenya’s Copyright Act provides for the appointment of a “competent authority” which is really a Tribunal appointed by the Minister in charge of the Kenya Copyright Board who happens to be the Attorney General (AG).

In Gazette notice no. 4339 dated 2nd April 2012, the AG has now appointed the following 5 individuals to form the Competent Authority:

Prof. Ben Sihanya – appointed as Chairman of the Competent Authority

Sihanya is currently Associate Professor of Law at the University of Nairobi School of Law. He has researched, published and spoken widely on Intellectual Property, Constitutionalism, Education Law and ICT Law in Kenya.

Sihanya is known for his innovative approach to the law and other inter-disciplinary areas of legal research and practice. He has conducted training, publishing, consulting and mentoring in Intellectual Property and Innovation, Education, Training, Research and Mentoring (ETRM) Law, Constitutionalism and Governance, Communications Law as well as Trade and Corporate Governance Law in Kenya specifically and Africa generally.

As one of the foremost authorities on copyright law in Kenya, IPKenya believes that Sihanya’s appointment as Chairman is well deserved. His wealth of skills, knowledge and experience in intellectual property is unmatched.

The following 4 individuals have been appointed as Members of the Competent Authority:

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