On Thursday 29th September, the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) and CIPIT were hosted by the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) at the Nailab to speak on the topic of Copyright and Blogging in Kenya. KECOBO was represented by Sharon Chalale, Deputy Chief Legal Counsel who gave an overview of copyright and related rights in Kenya. CIPIT was represented by yours truly and I spoke about copyright issues in blogging.

The internet has become a double-edged sword for creators because uploading your work online increases your visibility but also puts you at risk of plagiarism and copyright infringement. On the question of protection of your online works, I have three separate recommendations to make: creative commons licenses, KECOBO registration and finally technological protection measures.

Firstly, I recommend that you all consider using creative commons (CC) licenses for all your online work. CC licenses are copyright law and contract law nicely rolled up into one. They offer you flexibility in choosing which rights you wish to reserve and which forms of uses you wish to allow. The best CC license to use is the 4.0 unported international license which is available on the cc website here. This license can be customised in six ways depending on your specific preferences based on three important questions: Do you want to allow commerical uses of your work?, Do you want to allow others to make modifications to your work? If yes, do you want to allow modifications to be shared under the same license? Once you have selected the options, the cc site will automatically generate the computer codes for your license which you can can copy-paste and upload them on your blog. The CC site will show you the icon of the license you’ve chosen and allow you to add additional information about yourself for the purpose of attribution.

Secondly, I recommend that any person intending to paper-publish their online work to register the work(s) at the Kenya Copyright Board for extra protection. Copyright registration in Kenya is simple and straightforward. Please visit: www.copyright.go.ke to get more details and the application forms. Once you’ve registered your work(s), you will receive a certificate of notification which serves as prima facie evidence of your ownership over the work(s).

Thirdly, technological protection measures (TPMs) are an important way of ensuring that your work is not misappropriated or misused and it allows you to control access and use of your work. Types of TPMs including: watermarking, encryption, access controls, authentication, among others. In this connection, the Copyright Act provides additional protection to creators by making it an offence to circumvent TPMs.

To sum up, these various online protection measures work best when you as the copyright owner are actively involved in promotion and protection of your intellectual property rights. As creators of online digital works you are encouraged to add a generic tag of “(c) (author’s name) + (year of publication) + All Rights Reserved” at the end of every work you upload online. Your contact details should also be easily accessible both on each individual work and on your site/blog in case attempts are made by a third party to contact you regarding consent to use your copyright work.

In this age of the internet, surveillance and monitoring of your copyright work has been made somewhat easier. For instance, using search engines to search for your name and/or the name of your work(s) allows you to track where and how your work has been cited, mentioned or even copied by others. In addition, most private users of digital copyright works could also serve as your eyes and ears and help you as the copyright owner spot unauthorised uses of your work(s) on the internet. It is important to remember that there are several types of uses of copyright work that are allowed under the ‘fair dealing’ provisions of our Copyright Act eg. criticism, review, scientific research, educational uses, private use and reporting of current events for as long as you as the author are acknowledged as such.