By Cynthia Nzuki
Software and computer programmes have become a huge part of our daily lives. They drive significant elements of our lives. For example, we now use software and computer programmes such as word processing, accounts software, asset management software and so on. This is replicated in schools, homes, social places and so on. The programmes help us carry out various tasks as they make our work easier. Those who develop the software and the programmes expend their time and resources and as such, protection is important.
The Copyright Act defines a computer programme as a set of instructions expressed in words, codes, schemes or in any other form, which is capable, when incorporated in a medium that the computer can read, of causing a computer to perform or achieve a particular task or result. Think of it this way: when a person is instructing another on what to do and how to execute it, the instructions should be in a language that the recipient understands; otherwise, there would be a communication breakdown due to language barrier. Similarly, a software or a computer programme is the language computers understand are able to execute tasks.
In Kenya, protection of computer programmes is within the copyright regime. They are categorized as literary work. Of the various challenges that face the software industry, the major one is infringement or simply put theft and piracy. Principally, any unauthorized copying of software and computer programmes is infringement. Infringers obtain copies of a given computer software through unauthorized means, modify and augment the duplicated software code in undesirable ways, including insertion of malicious logic, backdoors, and exploitable vulnerabilities. This exposes consumers to harm and affects the businesses of software developers and software developing industries.Continue reading