Incidental Use and Copyright Exhaustion: High Court Ruling in Nairobi Map Service v Celtel Kenya (Zain Kenya)

celtel map kenya africa

 

After 7 years in court, a judgment was recently delivered in the case of Nairobi Map Service Limited v Celtel Kenya Limited (Zain Kenya) & 2 others [2016] eKLR in which Nairobi Map sought to have the defendants namely Celtel/Zain Kenya (now Airtel Kenya), Z.K Advertising Kenya and the Sound and Picture Works company held liable for copyright infringement of a copyrighted map known as ‘Kenya Administrative Map’ which was included in the ‘Zain Coverage’ advertisement televised in August 2009.

According to the court there were 3 issues to determine namely: (1) whether the Plaintiff has copyright in the map known as ‘Kenya Administrative Map’; (2) If issue No. 1 is in the affirmative, whether all or any of the Defendants have infringed the Plaintiff’s copyright in the said map; and (3) Whether the Plaintiff is entitled to damages as prayed, from the Defendants or any of them.

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No Making Available Right, No Royalties from Multichoice Signal Distribution

GRH Consulting Diagrammatical View of Broadcasting Copyright Satellite Signal Distribution

This blogpost has been prompted by two recent developments in Kenya and Namibia. In Kenya, the High Court recently delivered a ruling in the case of Music Copyright Society of Kenya Limited & another v Multichoice (K) Limited & another [2016] eKLR in which the court dismissed the copyright infringement suit filed by the collective management organisation MCSK against Multichoice. Meanwhile in Namibia, a recent report here reveals one of the reasons why Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) which receives royalties from Multichoice has failed to distribute them to other concerned African copyright societies.

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Uncertain Future for Reprographic Rights in Kenya as KOPIKEN Collecting Society Registration Not Renewed

KOPIKEN Launch Collective Management Reproduction Rights Society of Kenya

In a public notice by Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) published on February 4th 2016, we are informed that KECOBO at its Board Meeting of January 28th 2016 considered the application for renewal of registration as a collecting society made by the Reproduction Rights Society of Kenya (Kopiken). After consideration of Kopiken’s application, KECOBO decided not to renew Kopiken’s registration. This means that as of January 1st 2016, there is no registered collecting society for reprographic rights in Kenya. In this regard, KECOBO in its public notice states as follows: “KECOBO will be consulting stakeholders of KOPIKEN to determine its future sometimes (sic) in March 2016.”
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Law Society of Kenya Article Review: “Copyright Protection for Foreign Works in Kenya”

We are pleased to have come across a solitary article on Intellectual Property (IP) in the recent Law Society of Kenya Journal Volume 9(2) of 2013. This article is titled “Copyright Protection for Foreign Works in Kenya” and was authored by Mr. Wilfred Lusi.

From the outset, the article appears to be premised on the problematic assumption that foreign works do not enjoy copyright protection in Kenya. Take for instance the first paragraph which reads: “The discussion herein is limited to exploring the significance of extending appropriate copyright protection to foreign works…”

In addition, the article fails to distinguish which category of copyright works will be examined in the article. Despite this lack of focus, a cursory reading of the article reveals that the main works primarily considered by the author were audio-visual and musical works. There also appears to be no distinction drawn in the article between copyright and related rights in foreign works. This blogger respectfully argues that this last distinction would have proved useful particularly from the perspective of administration of rights and enforcement of rights.

Read the rest of this article here.

QOTD: Do You Own the Rights to Artistic Works Purchased at the Maasai Market?

 

maasai-market-by-bulinya

The “Maasai market” (not represented here) is an open-air market where shoppers can find curios, paintings, drawings, clothes and fabrics with Kenyan prints, jewellery and wood-carvings, hand-made by local artisans. The venue for the Maasai Market rotates between different shopping centres and other locations within Nairobi. For tourists and locals alike, the prices at Maasai Market are very negotiable subject to one’s bargaining prowess and ability to haggle down to the last cent. No receipts are issued for purchases made at the Maasai Market nor should a purchaser expect any warranties or guarantees on items sold at the Maasai Market.

This leads us to our question of the day (QOTD) which is:

If someone buys a painting from an art gallery the Maasai market, do they simultaneously buy the copyright and all rights under that copyright? Can the artist subsequently make copies or postcards of the painting that he/she sold? Can the buyer make postcards of the painting and sell them?

From the explanations above, it is clear that all works sold at Maasai market are subject to copyright protection mainly under the category of artistic works. Further, it must be assumed that these artistic works are sold either by the authors themselves, authorised agents or representatives of the authors.

One possible answer to the QOTD would be in the affirmative on condition that the purchaser waits fifty years after the end of the year in which the author of the artistic work dies. In the event that the identity of the author is unknown (which may be the case with Maasai market works), the purchaser would have to wait 50 years from the end of the year in which the artistic work was first created/published.

However, this blogger submits that there is a better answer to the QOTD. In the context of a Maasai market purchase, it appears that that there is no clear assignment of copyright and exclusive license to carry out any of acts controlled by copyright, including reproduction, adaptation and making of derivative works i.e. post cards. This is because section 33(3) of the Copyright Act provides that such assignment of copyright and exclusive license must be in writing signed by or on behalf of the assignor or licensor of the Maasai market work, as the case may be.

Nonetheless, this blogger argues that the purchaser of a Maasai market work enjoys a non-exclusive license to do any act the doing of which is controlled by copyright. According to section 33(4) of the Act, this non-exclusive license need not be in writing and may be oral or inferred from conduct. The Act however provides that such non-exclusive license may be revocable at any time unless granted by contract.

Therefore, for any IP lawyer, the solution to the uncertainty in ownership of rights to Maasai market works may be resolved by simply having something in writing along the lines of:

“I,……the Author hereby irrevocably assigns, conveys and otherwise transfers to…… the Assignee, and its respective successors, licensees, and assigns, worldwide, all right, title and interest in and to the works, and all proprietary rights therein, including, without limitation, all copyrights, trademarks, patents, design rights, trade secret rights, economic rights, and all contract and licensing rights, and all claims and causes of action with respect to any of the foregoing, whether now known, or hereafter to become known.”

This may be food for thought next time you’re strolling past the Maasai market and something catches your eye.

Amalgamation of Collecting Societies, Compulsory Licensing and the Role of the Copyright Tribunal

Currently, copyright and related rights licensing within the music industry generates approximately Kshs 308 million in total. From this total income, MCSK takes home over 80% with the remaining 20% shared between the related rights CMOs: KAMP and PRiSK. If you ask any of the CEOs of these three CMOs (pictured above), they will tell you that collecting just over a quarter million in license fees is barely scratching the surface of the millions of shillings in uncollected royalty payments. However, the singular challenge in collecting these missing millions has been the division among the three CMOs.

KECOBO, the government regulator of CMOs, has midwifed several failed attempts to structure a joint partnership between these three CMOs with the most notable attempt in April 2011 with the support of the Norwegian Copyright Development Association (NORCODE). The bone of contention appears to have been whether the three parties ought to be treated as equal partners in the joint revenue collection venture. At the time, this blogger was an observer and recalls that MCSK seemed particularly opposed to the idea of “a partnership among equals” for several valid reasons.

Out of this failed attempt, the seed of partnership appeared to have been sown between the related rights CMOs – KAMP and PRiSK. In July 2011, the Boards of KAMP and PRiSK agreed to start a joint collection exercise for revenue from Communication to the Public Stream of Revenue on a commission basis. Two years, KAMP and PRiSK are now carrying out joint royalty collections countrywide. The two CMOs are also sharing offices and other resources including staff which has drastically reduced their operation costs allowing them to have more income for royalty distribution to their respective members.
The related rights CMOs also appear to have been the biggest beneficiaries of the 2012 amendments to the Copyright Act which introduced the right to equitable remuneration under section 30A.

Section 30A introduces compulsory licensing into Kenya’s copyright law. This section requires that all users must pay producers (through KAMP) and performers (through PRiSK) where a sound recording or its reproduction is published or used in broadcasting, communication to the public or public performance. Furthermore, the user is required to pay performers (through PRiSK) where a fixation of a performance or its reproduction is published or or used in broadcasting, communication to the public or public performance.

It is for this very reason that this blogger has been particularly harsh on KECOBO for not ensuring that the Copyright Tribunal is up and running. This Copyright Tribunal is vested with powers under the Copyright Act to hear and determine matters brought by users relating to CMO tariffs and other license conditions. In the meantime, the average user of music in Kenya must contend with two sets of royalty invoices, one from MCSK and another KAMP and PRiSK. This prevailing situation has resulted in increased hostility and resistance from users who feel overburdened and thus refuse to pay license fees all together.

In addition to pushing for the setting up of the Copyright Tribunal, this blogger submits that KECOBO should actively encourage the amalgamation of the collecting societies operating within the music industry for the sake of the overburden users of music in Kenya. One viable option for KECOBO would be to amend the Copyright Act to allow for the voluntary amalgamation of two or more registered CMOs. Such an amendment would allow for several CMOs to form one single CMO while remaining registered companies limited by guarantee. This proposal is inspired by section 71 of Uganda’s Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act of 2006 which reads as follows:-

71. Voluntary amalgamation of societies

(1) Any two or more registered societies may, with the prior approval of the Registrar, amalgamate into a single society.

(2) An amalgamation referred to in subsection (1) shall not take place unless—
(a) a general meeting of each of the societies has been called;
(b) each member of the society has had a clear notice of fifteen days of the meeting; and
(c) a preliminary resolution has been passed by a two-thirds majority of the members present at the meeting for the amalgamation.

(3) An amalgamation of registered societies into one society under this section may be effected without dissolution of the societies concerned or a division of the assets and liabilities of the amalgamated societies and a resolution of the society passed for the amalgamation shall be sufficient for the transfer of the assets and liabilities of the amalgamated societies to the new society.

This proposed amendment to Kenya’s Copyright Act would send a strong and clear message to the user that KECOBO supports the growing public sentiment against a multiplicity of registered CMOs levying fees for the same or similar works. Such a legal provision would also enable members to put pressure on their respective CMOs to amalgamate and create a one-stop shop for licensing of their rights and distribution of royalties.

Intellectual Property and Outdoor Advertising in Kenya

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Businesses often spend much time and money to create a successful advertising campaign. It is important to protect your intellectual property (IP) assets, so that others do not unfairly copy or free-ride upon your innovative creations.” – Lien Verbauwhede, WIPO.

Like in many parts of the world, the advertising sector in Kenya is the new battle-ground upon which businesses compete to creatively and uniquely pass on relevant information to customers so as to facilitate and positively influence their buying decisions. It is generally agreed that for an advertisement to be effective, it must first get noticed, and then be remembered long enough to persuasively communicate the unique selling proposition of a product or service, so as to make potential customers into actual ones. Outdoor advertising, in particular, is considered a cost effective way of giving messages the maximum exposure. Outdoor advertising includes billboards, outdoor signs, printed messaging, street banners, posters, brochures etc.

This blogger has noted an increase in the number of creative new outdoor advertisements by both medium-sized and large companies leading to a surge in the number of billboards along streets, highways in urban areas. Billboards are so far the preferred medium for outdoor advertising. there are several types of intellectual property rights that are involved in billboard advertising. For instance, most of the creative content on the billboard (writing, pictures, art, graphics, lay-out) may be protected by copyright along with any advertising slogans which may also be protected by trademark law.
In addition, industrial design law may be crucial for protection of billboards. Industrial designs cover the three dimensional form of billboards provided that such form gives a special appearance to a product of industry and can serve as a pattern for a product of industry. In the case of ENG Kenya Ltd v Magnate Ventures Ltd (2009), both the plaintiff and defendant carried on business in the outdoor advertising sector and the plaintiff alleged that the defendant had infringed on the plaintiff’s design for ‘suburban signs’. The court held that the registration of the plaintiffs’ design at the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) was proof enough that the design was unique and capable of registration. The plaintiff could therefore claim exclusive right to the design. The court further stated that the defendant copied the plaintiffs’ design in bad faith.

For printing and branding companies, it is important to be very conscious of IP issues in their various advertising solutions. In this regard, the case of Alternative Media Ltd v Safaricom Ltd (2004) is instructive. The plaintiff, who is in the business of advertising graphic designing and media communication solutions, sued the defendant claiming copyright infringement on the plaintiff’s design that it had submitted to the defendant as a proposal to be used on the 250 airtime scratch cards. The court held that the defendant had indeed infringed on the plaintiff’s rights under copyright law because the design they used on their airtime scratch cards was substantially the same as the one submitted by the plaintiff to them as a proposal.

Another exciting area of outdoor advertising is transit advertising. This blogger has previously highlighted the Triple P Media project which involves advertising fused with high-quality custom-made audio and audio-visual content playing in public service vehicles (PSVs) countrywide, in addition to other public places like supermarkets, malls, banking halls, bars, clubs, restaurants etc. There is also the promising innovation by FlashCast Ventures, who have developed a method of scrolling advertisements via LCD displays installed in PSVs. These LCD screens are fitted with global positioning system devices hence messages are programmed to be location specific. This means it is possible to preset a commercial on a supermarket to run when the bus is within its proximity and broadcast special offers, promotions, and goods available. Although geo-local transit advertising may not meet the threshold of absolute novelty required for patent protection in Kenya, there may be other aspects of FlashCast that may be patentable or eligible for industrial design and utility model protection.