Infringement Not Intended: Building Respect for Intellectual Property in Kenya

Vogue 73 Questions with Lupita Nyong'o screenshot
In case you missed it, this blogger’s colleague, Isaac Rutenberg recently penned a newspaper piece titled: “Let’s respect the copyright of our artistes to build creative industry and make jobs”. This blogpost offers another perspective on the central topic of building respect for intellectual property (IP) rights from a different perspective namely, IP enforcement.
With regard to Rutenberg’s article, this blogger admires Vogue’s fancy footwork in avoiding any copyright issues with Disney in the Lupita Nyong’o interview by cleverly muting Lupita’s recorded performance of the Disney song and replacing it with a subtitle. (Aside: one wonders how Rutenberg ever ended up watching Lupita’s interview by Vogue ;-)) Speaking of YouTube, this blogger has always wondered why some YouTube accounts deliberately upload other people’s music videos and other content then post a comment stating: “No Copyright Infringement Intended” – a contradictory and misleading statement to post since such videos are automatically subject to take-down by YouTube for copyright infringement.

This blogger submits that an important way of building respect for IP in Kenya is the effective enforcement of IP rights, in the interests of social and economic development and consumer protection. Enforcement is the act of putting the law into effect. It means the execution of law, writ, judgment or the collection of a debt or fine. In the IP context, enforcement means putting into effect the rights and duties granted under the different IP laws. IP enforcement concerns itself with the reliefs and remedies that IP owners can access if their IP rights are infringed.
With regard to IP rights, enforcement denotes compelling recognition, compliance and respect of the IP rights conferred by a patent, trademark, industrial designs, copyright or other category of IP. IP enforcement provisions are designed to establish the mechanisms and the legal framework that will compel compliance with the rights conferred by each of the IP categories. “Enforce” is a broad ranging term that includes: provision to identify an infringement; norms that establish the mechanism to take action when an infringement has taken place, which are, thus, preventive in nature.
In this connection, this blogger would like to single out the efforts of KECOBO in the area of copyright enforcement which, it is submitted, have gone a long way in building respect for copyright in Kenya. According to available data, KECOBO has successfully conducted more than 70 anti-piracy raids throughout Kenya since 2014 to-date. Following the raids more than 51 anti-piracy cases were filed in were filed in court by copyright prosecutors, seven of which were successfully finalized. In this regard, KECOBO continues to actively collaborate with the National Police Service conducted several trainings on Copyright and related rights in a bid to equip police officers with the necessary knowledge to deal with enforcement of intellectual property rights. After training the police officers are charged with the mandate to enlighten fellow officers on the provisions of the Constitution that empower protection of copyright works like the authority to conduct copyright inspections, identification of bona-fide right holders, identification of infringed copyright works and methods of distinction between genuine and infringed copyright works among others. KECOBO’s police trainings are based on the recent developments in the copyright industry, the recent changes in the copyright laws and the challenges that continue to be met by the copyright inspectors.

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