3, 2, 1: Action as Film Regulation Moves to ICT Ministry

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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.

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Idea/Expression Murkiness: Court Ruling in Nation Media Copyright Suit over ‘LIT 360’ Simulcast Show

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Like clockwork, behind every mega corporate launch in Kenya is a law suit over allegedly ‘stolen’ intellectual property (IP). In a recent High Court ruling in Incognito Productions Limited & another v Nation Media Group [2018] eKLR, the learned judge appeared to sympathise with the Plaintiffs but not enough to grant their application for a temporary injunction against the Defendant, one of Kenya’s largest media conglomerates that recently rolled out a multi-million shilling project dubbed ‘Lit Music’.

The face of Lit Music (which is really just a record label) is ‘LIT 360’, a 1-hour programme made available simultaneously on Nation’s radio, television and digital platforms. LIT 360 was designed with the aim of talent scouting, soliciting and harvesting content, as well as distribution, marketing and promotion of musical talent. As readers may have undoubtedly figured out by now, the Plaintiffs’ claim is that Nation unlawfully appropriated their concept which underlies Lit Music and LIT 360 based on a series of confidential business proposals made to Nation by the Plaintiffs between July 2016 and March 2017.

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Copyright Dispute over Safaricom’s “BLAZE” Campaign: Transcend Media Granted Anton Pillers Against Saracen Media

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“We wish to underscore the importance of fostering creativity through respect and protection of intellectual property rights of others. A nation cannot be built on disregard for originality and promotion of copy cats.” – Excerpt from a press statement by Transcend Media Group.

This blogger has come across the recent case of Transcend Media Group Limited v. Saracen Media Limited & 2 Ors Civil Case No. 3644 of 2016 in which Senior Magistrate E.K Usui has granted temporary injunctive orders sought by Transcend, the applicant against Saracen and the two other respondents. The court granted Anton Piller orders allowing Transcend to enter the premises of the respondents to preserve, seize, collect and keep machines, data, documents and storage material relating to Transcend’s copyright work under the supervision of Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) officers. In addition, the respondents have been restrained by the court from any further infringement, alienation, distribution and storage of Transcend’s copyright work pending hearing of the suit.

According to a Business Daily report here, the genesis of this copyright dispute is a Sh208 million tender by Safaricom seeking to procure the services of an advertising agency to handle the mobile network operator’s youth segment brand communication which is now called BLAZE. Transcend submitted its strategy proposal and creative body of works to Safaricom but lost the bid to Saracen. Transcend alleges that Safaricom awarded the business to Saracen and a Company (Fieldstone Helms Limited) owned by former Transcend staff who were involved in Transcend’s bid including the team leader. As a result, Transcend claims that Fieldstone Helms is now “illegally implementing” Transcend’s intellectual property (IP).

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