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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Missing the Point: Call for Competition Enforcement of Intellectual Property Infringement

by AFK Insider

A recent piece published in a local newspaper reads: “Let IP theft fall under law of unfair trade practices”. In this piece, the author contends that trade mark infringement is so rampant in Kenya that trade mark owners require a third layer of protection under competition law in addition to the existing courses of action under the Trade Marks Act and Anti-Counterfeit Act. This blogger argues that the author’s contention plainly misconstrues the purpose and scope of competition law. In addition, the author’s contention is unashamedly skewed in favour of intellectual property rights (IPR) owners. In response to the IPR maximalist stance taken by the author, this blogger argues that a permissive IPR regime could enable locals to acquire knowledge and skills from copying and reverse engineering which in turn could lead to innovation of improved localised products.

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Irony: Lack of Creativity and Innovation in Celebrating World Intellectual Property Day

The World Intellectual Property Day (WIPD) is celebrated by Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on every 26th of April. This coincides with the date on which the Convention establishing WIPO originally entered into force in 1970. Year in, year out, the WIPD theme tend to revolve around creativity and innovation. In 2017, the theme was “Innovation – Improving Lives” and WIPO released this theme earlier than usual to aid in preparations by member states to mark the day. This year’s theme took this blogger back to WIPD 2012 when we celebrated “Visionary Innovators” with emphasis on people whose innovations transform our lives.

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