Kenya Film Classification Board Chief (KFCB) Executive Officer Mr Ezekiel Mutua says improved use of digital technologies has increased risk of copyright infringements through the internet.
He observed that there has been a lot of online infringement of copyrighted works which includes visual works like photos and paintings, audios such as speeches, music and poems and audiovisual includes videos and literary works.
Speaking when he officially opened the Njoki Karuoya Creative and Media Center at Kariandusi within Gilgil Sub-County, Mr Mutua noted there were some websites that allow users to download music or other creative content at a fee, without the authority or a license from the original owners of the work.
The KFCB boss said public awareness on copyright infringement was needed because most Kenyans were not aware that they were committing an offence when they shared or downloaded creative content without owners’ authority.
The creative and Media center is a brain child of career journalist Njoki Karuoya who also graced the occasion.
Ms Karuoya indicated the initiative was part of campaign to urge Kenyans to appreciate their local cultures.
“We want to revive our cinema watching culture even in the rural areas so that we can provide a ready market for local productions,” she added.
“We need to reach a level where we produce and consume our local productions so that our creative industry can expand,” she added.
Former Naivasha Member of Parliament John Muthutho called on Kenyan youth to leverage on emerging opportunities such as social media platforms to expand the local film sector.
“We have to educate Kenyans to protect home grown talent by shunning acts that infringe on copyrights. They must be informed that there is no dignity in copyright infringement.
Punishment for infringement needs to be enhanced, while police and judicial officers need more training so as to be better equipped to handle the menace,” Mutua pointed out.
He stated that the country’s film, music and performing arts sector remained largely untapped despite its huge potential for employment creation.
“We are committed to public-private partnerships in projects such as this Creative and Media Center so that our artists can showcase their talent to both Kenyans and the rest of the world,” said the CEO
Mr Mutua added the ministry of Information Communication Technology has mandated local broadcasters to ensure at least 40 percent of their content is made domestically.
The CEO called on artists to conform to social norms and values when creating content “Art does not have to be dirty to sell. There are better ways to challenge status quo and condemn without resorting to insults,” he added.
Ms Karuoya said that the country used to have a vibrant local film sector but now most of the content consumed is imported.
She said that local film and television productions have continued to face stiff competition from foreign entities especially after the liberalization of the sector.