The Division of Legal Services organizes a webinar on Entertainment and Copyright Law

By Diana Meso

Just how well do you understand the borders of Intellectual Property (IP)? In a webinar dubbed “Entertainment and Copyright Law-The New Frontier” organized and moderated by Hellen Ambasa (Director Legal Services and Company Secretary) on Wednesday, June 24, four great minds came together to give insights on matters IP.

The event which was live-streamed on Facebook saw close to 1000 participants get engaged about what it means to have an idea, how to express it legally and make a living out of it, and when, where, and how it should be used. Kicking off the discussion was Sharon Chahale-Wata (Advocate of the High Court) who explained what Copyright Law entails.

Advocate Chahale-Wata said that Copyright Law is the right to protection of someone’s moral and material interest resulting from any scientific, literary, or artistic production of which he/she is the author. In simple terms, the law gives you the right to control the use of your work, to control who can reproduce it and who can distribute it. It is considered a fundamental human right and has provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In Kenya, this is recognized and supported by articles 11, 40, and 69 of the Kenyan Constitution (2010) and the Copyright Amendment Act (2019), which recognizes and enhances intellectual property, and states that Copyright encompasses moral and economic rights.

Advocate Wata also noted that copyright is supposed to be a bridge between the creator and the user and should not be viewed as a way to punish one party, because the idea is not to bar people from accessing and using someone’s work but for the creator to receive some reward for what they have created.

On the other hand, Liz Lenjo Kags who is also an Advocate of the High Court took on Entertainment law stating that among other things, this protects one’s idea after it has been expressed in a material form. The law governs the transactions with your idea; how it is shared, marketed, distributed, broadcasted, and so on.

From the discussion, it is important to take note of the following key points;

  • Having a well-researched and written contract is a must; you should issue or get issued with a contract before agreeing to anything despite the relationship between the parties.
  • Intellectual property (IP) will earn you a living if you seek help from the right people to help you develop an effective intellectual property management strategy. Do not just view it as a hobby or something to make you famous.
  • Collaboration and working together are key if success is to be achieved. Being a jack of all trades (you are the producer, the director, the songwriter, the lawyer, the accountant) will land you in many problems than you could ever imagine, so let the experts help you.
  • Artists should engage lawyers more.
  • We need to appreciate and understand the importance of different law bodies in the entertainment and copyright law sector and how they can be of help to us.
  • You work can be registered under more than one IP; trademark, patent, copyright; explore all options.
  • Copyright lasts a lifetime and 50 years after you die in Kenya.
  • Copyright is different in countries; thus, you need to adhere to the regulations of a particular jurisdiction.
  • Musicians should develop a music split sheet (shows the author, composer, and arranger) before producing their songs.
  • You can register your work through National Rights Registry nrr.copyright.go.keAlways acknowledge the owner of the work you are using, ask permission to use their work.
  • Sportsmen and women are also considered as entertainers, you can’t just use their pictures anyhow without their consent.
  • In Animation, you have the right to protect the cartoon or character you have created and the name you have given it but not the technique of how you came up with the cartoon.
  • Any commercial gain from someone’s work should be paid for
  • If you create a meme from someone’s work, it is infringing on their IP rights.
  • On online platforms, you have to be careful not to introduce new audiences to the piece of art, all credits should go back to the owner.
  • Copyright does not protect your idea but the expression of that idea needs to be in a material form.
  • Do not fear lawyers, there are here to make your life better, if not sure approach them before signing or agreeing to anything.

Also present as a moderator was Advocate Susan Obunga Guya who specializes in Intellectual Property and Data Protection.

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