Communications Authority on the Spot over Network Facilities Provider License to Jamii Telecom

By Charles Opiyo**

Recently, one of the local dailies had the following headline emblazoned upon it, “Tycoon gifted Sh5bn mobile phone license…” This story related to Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) granting a Network Facilities Provider Tier 1 License to Jamii Telecommunications Limited (JTL). The holder of this license is permitted to build and commercially operate telecommunication/electronic communications systems. According to media reports however, the amount paid by JTL was well below the full value of the license (stated by the press to be 5 billion Kenya Shillings). The media report goes on to relate that the amount that JTL paid was only 100,000 Kenya Shillings.

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Streamlining Public Transport in Kenya: A Commentary

by Wendy Muchai**

The introduction of an e-payment system for the public service vehicles (PSVs) in the transport sector has been an idea embraced by some, for reasons that implementation of such a system could greatly help regulate the matatu industry, including eliminating corruption and facilitating collection of taxes. However, others have been opposed to a cashless system for reasons such as loss of income to matatu crews since no e-ticketing system would be able to take into consideration the informal and ad-hoc revenue-share arrangements between the PSV owners and their crews.

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Copyright Board Obtains Court Order Stopping Music Society from Collecting Royalties

In earlier posts here and here, we explained how Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) appears to be engaged in an all-out war against Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) and Music Publishers Association of Kenya (MPAKE). Readers will recall that early this year KECOBO declined to renew MCSK’s registration as a collecting society and instead decided to register MPAKE as a collecting society, presumably in the place of MCSK. Since then, MCSK has obtained several court orders (the latest coming from the High Court in Kakamega dated 5th April 2017) to enable it to continue its operations as a collecting society. In the latest turn of events, KECOBO has now obtained two court orders dated 31st May 2017 (pictured above) barring MCSK from collecting royalties from the public as well as publishing any information insinuating that it is duly licensed as a collecting society for the year 2017 pending hearing of the suit.

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Collecting Society Wants Copyright Board Directors Jailed for Alleged Contempt of Court

In a recent newspaper advert, Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) published a Court Order and a public notice (as pictured above). According to the Court Order dated 25th May 2017, Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) is restrained from interfering further with MCSK’s collection of royalties. In addition, KECOBO is restrained from issuing press statements and commenting on matters that are substantially and directly in issue in the court case. Most notably, the Order contains a notice to show cause why Contempt of Court proceedings should not be commenced against the entire Board of Directors of KECOBO.

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Towards Intellectual Property Securitisation in Kenya: Movable Property Security Rights Act Passed

In an earlier post here, a fellow blogger opined that the Movable Property Security Rights Bill, 2016 would herald a new dawn of intellectual property (IP) financing in Kenya. The purpose of the Bill was to provide for the use of movable property as collateral for credit facilities and to establish a collateral registry to facilitate registration of interests in movable property. The Bill was aimed at enabling Kenyans to use their IP rights, including copyright, patents, trademarks, certificates for industrial designs, certificates for utility models, and other related rights, to create security rights through which they can acquire credit facilities. This blogger is now pleased to report that the Bill has now been signed into law as Movable Property Security Rights Act, 2017.

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2017-2018 Tariffs for Collecting Societies Gazetted

The Attorney General has approved and gazetted new tariffs for collective management organisations (CMOs) in the music industry which will be valid from April 2017 to December 2018. According to Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), the new tariffs were set based on discussions with stakeholders and the CMOs which were moderated by KECOBO. It is important to note that KECOBO has encouraged the CMOs to collect royalties jointly meaning users will pay a single license fee to the three CMOs.

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Software Licensing and Tax Law in Kenya: Court of Appeal Decision in Kenya Commercial Bank v. Kenya Revenue Authority

In a recently reported judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case of Kenya Commercial Bank Limited v Kenya Revenue Authority [2016] eKLR, the central question for determination was whether payments of license fees in terms of royalties were subject to withholding tax. The Court’s answer was a definitive ‘Yes’ but this answer was based on the peculiar facts of the present case. As a side-note, readers may recall that in an earlier post here, we highlighted yet another software license dispute involving Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB).

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Fair Dealing, Book Piracy and Anti-Photocopying Debate in Kenya

As readers may know, there have been several media reports by book publishers, book authors and their supporters raising an alarm about the rising levels of piracy of printed texts. Japhet Otike, a professor at Moi University, offers a user’s perspective in a recent newspaper article titled: “Photocopying of a copyrighted book is not quite illegal”. His overall argument, which this blogger concurs with, is that copyright is and should be balanced to take into account the rights and interests of owners and users of copyright works respectively. In this regard, Otike argues that the term ‘piracy’ should be reserved only for those involved in mass production of copyrighted materials for commercial purposes. Thus students and teachers who produce a few pages from a book for non-commercial purposes should not be lumped together with hardcore pirates making a fortune from making, distributing and selling unauthorised copies of printed works.

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Thoughts on an Innovation Exchange Portal for Kenya

Over the years, this blogger has been interested in finding ways to facilitate the free flow of relevant and useful information among the various players in the innovation ecosystem in Kenya. For instance, through blogging, trained lawyers such as this blogger have been able to demystify the areas of law at the heart of most knowledge-based businesses including contract law, company law, information technology law, labour law, tax law and of course, intellectual property (IP) law. However, the downside of blogging is that it’s one-way traffic yet most bloggers (present company included) are more interested in eliciting views and insights from readers than merely imparting information through blogging.

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CopyrightX 2017 Recap: A Kenyan Perspective

As many readers may know, this blogger is affiliate faculty teaching the CopyrightX course in Nairobi, Kenya. CopyrightX is a 12 week course, affiliated with the Harvard Law School and Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society and led by Prof. William W. Fisher III, WilmerHale Professor of Intellectual Property, Harvard Law School. CopyrightX includes three sets of students and teachers: roughly 90 students attending a course at Harvard Law School taught by Prof. Fisher; roughly 570 students attending an online course taught by 23 Harvard teaching fellows; and roughly 500 students attending 19 courses taught by faculty at affiliated universities and institutions.

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