Kenya has embarked on the process of ratifying all international copyright treaties that it is signatory to, Attorney-General Justice (Rtd) Kihara Kariuki has said.
The Attorney-General specified that the process of ratification of the Beijing Treaty, is now at the parliamentary stage while those of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and the Marrakesh Treaty are under deliberation.
He spoke while opening the World Intellectual Property Organisation Heads of Copyright Offices Conference in Nairobi on Monday.
“Kenya is party to the Beijing Treaty on audiovisual performances adopted by the Diplomatic Conference on Protection of Audiovisual Performances in 2012, which sought to address audiovisual performers’ property rights granting them economic privileges for their performances used in motion pictures, the right of reproduction, distribution, rental and of making available. These are fundamental rights that the creative industry in the country will benefit from,” said Justice (Rtd) Kariuki.
He indicated that his office has already submitted to Parliament the Copyright Amendment Bill, which when enacted into law, will safeguard the interests of the creators in the digital environment as well as address gaps identified in the current legal framework in the supervision of Collective Management Organisations.
“The country has a vibrant creative industry revolving around production of new types of works, which transcend new markets. It is equally adaptive to new approaches of use and dissemination through the volatile cyberspace using digital technologies,” he stated.
Copyright and creative expression, according to him, present a new frontier for the continent’s development and already contribute significantly to the GDP of countries such as Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa and Kenya.
Kenya’s copyright industry for instance, he said, contributes Sh8.1bilion, which is equivalent to 5.3 percent of the country’s GDP.
“This presents both opportunity and threat to cultures and languages in the region and we must guard these against cultural property misappropriation. The continent must change and be a consumer of its own music, arts and culture and this will in turn put money into pockets of authors, producers and creators,” said Justice (Rtd) Kariuki.
Also at the opening of the conference, WIPO Deputy Director-General, Sylvie Forbin, while noting that at 83 percent, Kenya is leading in internet penetration nationally in the continent, followed by Liberia (80 percent) and Seychelles (70 percent), said this will translate into remarkable growth in the creative industries.
“Whatever the means of distributing and accessing creative content, we need to ensure that this growth is symmetric for those who create the content and that the benefits accrue to them as well as those who bring it to the market. Are the national structures, for instance sufficiently robust to ensure that creators are remunerated for their work, or can Malian content used in Kenya be accurately tracked and remunerated?” Ms Forbin said.
WIPO, according to her, in collaboration with key partners -African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) and Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) will support the continent’s Collective Management Organisations achieve this goal.
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