Recap of WIPO African Sub-Regional Workshop on New Perspectives on Copyright

WIPO African Sub regional Workshop New perspectives on copyright organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization in cooperation with the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization Harare Zimbabwe July 2015

This week, African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) hosted the WIPO African Sub-regional Workshop on New Perspectives on Copyright organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) from 20 – 21 July 2015.

The Workshop drew Heads of Copyright Offices in the ARIPO Member States and some Observer States who took part in this crucial Workshop aimed at discussing the management of Copyright and Related Rights in the face of new challenges emanating from new digital technologies. Also in attendance were copyright officials from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago who shared their experiences with their African colleagues.

What follows is a summary of the presentations made by the various participants at the Workshop.

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Intellectual Property Concerns in Kenya’s Draft National Culture Bill

HASSAN WARIO ARERO

On 27 August 2010, this blogger was among hundreds of Kenyans who witnessed the promulgation of Kenya’s Constitution. On numerous occasions here, we have discussed the far-reaching impact the 2010 Constitution has had on intellectual property laws in Kenya. For the first time in Kenya’s history, intellectual property (IP) norms were constitutionalised with corresponding obligations placed on various arms of the government to ensure that these constitutional provisions are actualised for the benefit of Kenyans.

One of these provisions is Article 11 which reads as follows:

Article 11 – Culture
(….)
11.(3) Parliament shall enact legislation to—
(a) ensure that communities receive compensation or royalties for the use of their cultures and cultural heritage; and
(b) recognise and protect the ownership of indigenous seeds and plant varieties, their genetic and diverse characteristics and their use by the communities of Kenya.

As a result of the above, Parliament is required to enact legislation to ensure that communities receive compensation or royalties for the use of their cultures and cultural heritage. This legislation should also address the recognition and protection of the ownership of indigenous seeds and plant varieties, their genetic and diverse characteristics and their use by the communities of Kenya.

In this connection, the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution requires that the legislation in respect to Culture under Article 11 must be enacted by Parliament within the first five years from the date of promulgation of the Constitution. Therefore the deadline for enactment is no later than August 27, 2015!

In a bid to meet or beat this deadline, the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts has begun the process of formulating a piece of legislation on Culture. The Ministry plans to hold a stakeholders’ workshop on January 30, 2015 at KICD to develop a Bill on Culture that will later be tabled before Parliament. In preparation for this planned workshop on formulation of the National Culture Bill, the Ministry has circulated a zero draft of the Bill available here. This draft is clearly ‘zero’ as it is largely incomplete except from a few provisions relating to a proposed National Council for Culture and the Arts and a National Fund for Culture and the Arts.

This blogger’s reading of Article 11(3) is that the legislation on Culture must address important concerns touching on the promotion and protection of traditional knowledge (TK), traditional cultural expressions, folklore as well as certain in situ genetic resources. In this regard, there may be considerable overlap between the proposed National Culture Bill and the 2013 Bill on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions Bill, previously discussed here and here. In fact, the Premable of the proposed draft TK Bill reads: “This legislation will give effect to provisions of Article 11 and 40(5) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.”

Another case of inter-ministerial mis-communication, per chance?

From an IP perspective, this blogger believes that an important question to be answered in the formulation of the Bill on Culture is whether to use the existing IP rights systems including industrial property, copyright and plant breeders rights or to develop a sui generis system for the promotion and protection of Culture.

State of Kenya’s Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement Regime

BASCAP KENYA REPORT 2013

A study commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) initiative reports that Kenya’s current intellectual property (IP) rights regime performs poorly in international gauges, ranking 95th of 130 countries in the IPR Index and 106th of 140 economies in the Global Competitiveness Index 2010. The BASCAP report, “Promoting and Protecting the Value of IP in Kenya”, sets out BASCAP’s recommendations for policy and legislative changes needed to bring Kenya’s IP regime and IP enforcement efforts up to international standards.

The full 2013 BASCAP Report is available here.

Legislative recommendations:

+ Address deficiencies in criminal IP law and procedures, particularly fines and penalites in the Anti-Counterfeit Act

+ Improve border enforcement provisions in the Anti-Counterfeit Act

+ Address deficiencies in the Copyright Act, 2001, particularly penalties for infringement and delineation of KECOBO and ACA mandates.

+ Improve and expedite civil enforcement procedures, and procedures with respect to the Trade Marks Act, 2001.

+ Grant powers to the ACA to settle matters out of court under the Anti-Counterfeit Act, 2008 in addition the power to destroy counterfeit goods and impose fines.

Policy recommendations:

+ Establish an inter-agency approach between the different Kenya Agencies administering and enforcing IP rights.

+ Establish an inter-agency approach with private sector coordination.

+ Expand IP-related administrative and technical capacity building

+ Increase public and political awareness of counterfeiting and piracy and the associated economic and social harm.