Protecting the gift to the world: Reflections on the state of photography laws in Kenya

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By Jentrix Wanyama*

When the French government purchased the first photography patent, photography was declared ‘a gift to free the word’. These words would turn out to be somewhat prophetic, as photography would go on to have a resounding impact on the world.[1] For instance, photography played a role in sensitizing people on the horrors of war, since for the first time, citizens of different countries were able to actually see the ravages of war that had before then seemed so far away.[2] 180 years later, it is interesting to note how the law concerning photography has developed in Kenya.  Does the state of applicable laws show our esteem for this gift or are we stifling it? In this blog, we discuss the law on photography in three broad themes: copyright; image rights and privacy; and security.

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Editor’s Note: Andrew Ngurumi recently wrote this post on the blog on the inclusion of farmers in Kenya’s agricultural policy. The post generated healthy discussion and an insightful question arose from the debate. One of our readers asked, what should policymakers do? Specifically in light of Andrew’s article. Here is his analysis.

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African Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore: Rethinking Swakopmund Protocol as a Model Law and Sui Generis System

Photo by ‘Indigenous Information Network (IIN)

By Michael Biko Butera*


Traditional Knowledge (TK) is any knowledge originating from a local or traditional community that is the result of intellectual activity and insight in a traditional context, including know-how, skills, innovations, practices and learning, where the knowledge is embodied in the traditional lifestyle of a community and is passed on from one generation to another.[1] TK often forms part of a community’s cultural and spiritual identity, technical, ecological and medical knowledge as well as biodiversity-related knowledge.[2] Folklore expressions (Folklore) on the other hand, are any forms, whether tangible or intangible, in which traditional culture and knowledge are expressed, appear or are manifested.[3]

Despite clear definitions, there has been a drumming debate whether TK and Folklore should be protected. If not, why? and if yes, how? Would it be through the intellectual property (IP) regime or any other mechanisms? The prevailing and ongoing argument is captured in part two.

The author posits that there is already a starting point to finding a way to protect TK and Folklore given their special nature. This is by rethinking the Swakopmund Protocol as a model law and a sui generis system for African countries to come up with corresponding national laws. Sui generis basically means that of its own kind or class; peculiar.[4]

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Capture of the Ubunifu Initiative Brochure

By Caroline Wanjiru and Cynthia Nzuki.

As highlighted in our previous post (here), the Strathmore Law Clinic (website here) began an initiative known as the Ubunifu Initiative, whose main focus is promoting the effective use and exploitation of creativity and innovation through the development and sensitization of intellectual property law and rights. The second session happened on the 30th of August, 2019, where we had one of our own, Ms. Caroline Wanjiru, being a panelist and sharing her expertise.

The focus was still on creatives; in particular musicians, authors and performing artists. The discussions focused on copyrights, copyright protection and related rights of the respective groups’ works. The session began with the panelists giving a brief discussion of intellectual property and intellectual property rights; how to obtain intellectual property rights protection in particular copyright and the associated rights. Questions on fair dealing and fair use; publishing rights; joint ownership/authorship of works; transfer of rights through assignment and licensing; jurisdiction for purposes of enforcement were tackled. Through the CIPIT Blog, we shall endeavor to inform on some of these issues in detail in our continuing IP series.

There are two (2) more sessions (further details) if you wish to attend simply send an email to to RSVP. Specify whether you wish to attend all the sessions or, if not, which specific sessions you wish to attend.

State Intervention on the Collective Management Organisations (CMO’s) in Kenya: A Commentary on the Copyright Amendment Bill, 2018

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By Caroline Wanjiru.

In our previous post, we addressed the law as is on Collective Management Organisations (CMO’s). Now we’ll analyze the proposed amendments to the Copyright Act and what they mean to the copyright holders and users in Kenya.

The Copyright Amendment Bill (‘Bill’)

This analysis will focus on proposed sections 46 A (10) (11) (12) B-G and 49 of the Bill.

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Capture of the Ubunifu Initiative Brochure

By Cynthia Nzuki and Jaaziyah Satar*

The Strathmore Law Clinic kick-started an initiative known as the Ubunifu Initiative. This initiative is a project of the Intellectual Property Division of the Strathmore Law Clinic (website here) that is aimed at promoting the effective use and exploitation of creativity and innovation through the development and sensitization of intellectual property law. The initiative was organized as a series of four weekly sessions scheduled on Fridays in the month of August and September. During the sessions, the attendees shall engage in discussions about what Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) This included what IPRs are; which IPRs would be of interest to them; which IPRs they might already hold; how to secure, protect and register IPRs in Kenya. The conversation will extend to sessions on how to maximize IPR benefits; dealing with government regulators and their specific requirements and any other area of that may be of interest to those in attendance that they wish to address (further details)

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In heavily mechanized and science-driven agriculture, on the one hand, it is assumed persons, mostly seed companies of an international pedigree, who breed, develop or discover a seed or a plant variety[1] are producers while farmers are deemed to be consumers of plant breeders’ products through buying the seeds and planting the protected plant varieties. This dichotomy disregards the quintessential role of farmers from time immemorial to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed/propagating material in order to promote agrobiodiversity and food security and nutrition.

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Regulation of Collective Management Organisations in Kenya: Understanding the Law as-is

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By Caroline Wanjiru*

From our previous post, we have described the various Collective Management Organizations’ (CMO’s) in Kenya. Briefly, CMOs are not-for-profit membership entities authorized by Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) to carry out the business of copyright collection on behalf of their members. Their operations of the CMO’s are regulated by the Members, KECOBO and Law.

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The Collective Management Organisations in Kenya’s Creative Market

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As part of CIPIT’s daily interactions with creatives, the Centre is embarking on an Intellectual Property explainer series. Tailor-made for creators. No legalese, no jargon. Just practical information. The main focus of these blogs is the various Collective Management Organisations (CMO’s) that operate in Kenya. In this blog, Cynthia Nzuki, introduces what CMO’s are, what they do and whether they are effectively and efficiently managing copyright on behalf of their members.

By Cynthia Nzuki*

Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) are private not-for-profit entities licensed to collect and distribute royalties for and among its members. In Kenya, there are presently five main CMO’s licensed by the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), as mandated by the Copyright Act of Kenya. They are:

  • The Reproduction Rights Society of Kenya (KOPIKEN),
  • Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP),
  • Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) (license here), and
  • The Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRiSK) (joint license here).[1]

Over the years, these organizations have received a lot of criticism for alleged misappropriation and unscrupulous handling of their members’ revenue; some more than others.

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Purpose Limitation and Data Minimization in the 2019 Data Protection Bill

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By Alex Gatawa*

The following post is the second of CIPIT’s analysis of the data protection principles provided for under section 25 of the Data Protection Bill. This post focuses on Section 25 (c) & 25 (d) of the Bill which provides for the processing of personal data collected should be for an explicit, specific and legitimate purpose and that the personal data should be adequate, relevant, limited to the purposes.

As was pointed out in the previous blog, available here, the central objective of the Data Protection Bill is to give effect to the Right to Privacy enshrined in Article 31 of the Constitution. Over and above this objective the preamble of the Bill provides other objectives of the Bill. It states that the Bill is to make provision for the regulation of the processing of personal data, provide for the rights of data subjects and impose obligations on the data controller and processors.   

In order to ensure that the objectives of the Bill, in particular, the regulation of the processing of personal data, are catered for, the Bill contains several provisions which help facilitate the achievement of these objectives. One such provision is Section 25 which contains the data protection principles, this blog will focus on the principles of purpose limitation and data minimisation provided for in section 25(c) & 25(d).

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