How copyright law protects creative work

Written By: Betty Kiptum


Despite film, music and literary materials making a significant contribution to the economy, piracy is a major challenge in realizing the full potential of the creative industry.

Listening to a song, reading a book….did you know that such works are protected legally under the Copyright Act of 2001? Section 22 of the Act indicates that works eligible for copyright include.

Literary works, musical work, artistic works, audio-visual works, sound recordings and broadcasts.

The Act further indicates that all original work is eligible for copyright unless its making involved an infringement of copyright of some other work.

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Copyright expires after a certain period. The law stipulates that for literary, musical or artistic work other than photographs, the copyright lasts for the period of the life of the author plus 50 years.

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For Audio-visual works and photographs, copyright lasts fifty years from the end of the year which the work was made or was first made available to the public, or first published, whichever date is the latest.

While for sound recordings and broadcasts the copyright is 50 years after the end of the year in which the recording was made or the broadcast took place.

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Online content

Once the term of protection of copyright expires, the work falls into the public domain. But where does online content fall?

The current Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2017 gives internet service providers the responsibility to address copyright infringement once a complaint has been raised by the copyright owner.

This is through taking down the content or disabling access or ensuring it is no longer disseminated online. The law considers as an infringement of copyright.

When you avail for sale or hire or by way of trade, expose or offer any infringing copy; or distribute infringing copies; or possess infringing copies other than for private and domestic use or import infringing copies.

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The penalty is a fine not exceeding four hundred thousand shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six years, or both for a first conviction; and in any other case, to a fine not exceeding eight hundred thousand shillings, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or to both.










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