MAURICE GILEAD: How to copyright your work in Kenya

Kindly introduce yourself to us.
My name is Maurice Gilead, I am a law major and a finalist. I am fascinated by contemporary issues including but not limited to the preservation of intellectual property and literature. I work as a rapporteur and a co-facilitator with a Netherlands based NGO, Aflatoun International.

Who is a rapporteur and what are your duties?
It varies with context but a rapporteur is someone tasked with the duty of taking down all the proceedings of any special plenary sittings of an organization and also coming up with comprehensive reports on the same or on any other tasks other than that which goes with the taking down of proceedings. In my organization, my duty as a rapporteur is to to come up with detailed reports after every facilitation I help conduct.

What is copyright?
It goes two ways, it could mean the propriety rights or ownership rights you have over an idea, or the protection itself that the copyright accords you as a writer, painter, programmer etc. In short, it is the right you have over your expression of an idea say in a book or an article.

So, what does copyrighting entail?
Copyrighting entails registering your work with an administrative body in your area with such mandate so that you protect your work from such things as massive copy pasting and plagiarism by third parties. Basically, it involves protecting your idea in your work.

Which bodies are responsible for protecting our copyrights in Kenya?
The body responsible for copyrighting work in Kenya is the Kenya Copyrights Board (KeCoBo) established by Section 3 of the Copyright Act.

How long does copyrighting take and what is required?
For copyright, your work has to be original. The only thing that you need is to express your idea in a tangible form. That is if it is music, you have to record it. Then, you collect registration forms from KeCoBo offices, based in Nairobi. Alternatively, these forms can be downloaded from their website. You fill in the relevant details and get the forms commissioned by a Commissioner for Oaths. After commissioning your registration forms, you will attach two original copies of your work.

You will then deposit the prescribed registration fee of Kshs. 1000 to the Board. Upon payment, you present the deposit slip at Kenya Copyrights Board together with your registration forms. They will then furnish you with a receipt of registration. Your original certificate of registration will be given to you within 5-7 days from the date of registration. They scrutinise your work during this period to ascertain originality. If it is not original, you will not get your certificate of registration.

If you produce an intellectual property, say you are a writer or an artist etc, is copyright assumed since it is all your work? Also, can you sell the copyright to someone else? I know it is that “encircled C”. If I put that © symbol on my works, would I say I have copyrighted my work?
Yes of course copyright is assumed and subsists automatically since it is your work but allow me ask you a question, suppose you wrote a book and I copied everything in it and we published it on the same day. How do you prove copyright now that it subsists automatically?

Yes, you can sell your copyright to another person. It is called assignment and transfer. On selling copyright, you enter into an agreement with the person you are selling to, through an agreement or a contract. Make sure to have a copyright lawyer with you so as to carefully transfer your copyrights for the amount you want to sell it for.

And then for the encircled c, it’s for blogs and other online material. Copyrighting your work means protecting your work from theft and other commercial use that you don’t want it to be subjected to. Well, now the world knows it’s your work and you can actually prove in court or elsewhere should the need arise using your certificate of registration.

If someone stole my work, how do I go about in the court of law?
If the work is originally yours, then copyright automatically subsists. However, copyrighting helps you easen the burden of evidence. The documentary evidence you get from copyrighting fastens the process. In the event that someone uses your photo, then you can successfully sue them by proving that the photo was used for commercial purposes.

So, how does that certificate relate with the encircled C?
The certificate is for work that is abstract and not online. You get this for books, texts. The encirled C (©) is meant to protect your work online. It is usually written as ` © Your Name. All Rights Reserved’

Should someone steal your work, what is the sentence? Jail term or they pay you?
In the event that you successfully sue someone, the penalty can be criminal or civil in nature. For the civil one, you will be paid five times the value that the work was supposed to fetch. For the criminal one, the fine is Kshs. 400,000 or a 10-year imprisonment or both. If you are found to possess infringing copies for commercial purposes, the fine is Kshs. 800,000 or an imprisonment of two years or both.

How does it work assuming that the stolen idea was through verbal conversation ?
Do not share your work. If you have an idea which you are going to share with someone and there is a potential of him/her stealing the idea, you need to contact an advocate before you share your idea. The advocate will draft a Non-Disclosure Agreement so that by the time you share your idea, they sign the agreement. The agreement contains the idea you will share, the instruction that they will not share or implement the idea for commercial purposes and the provisions on the penalties if the agreement is breached.

When you submit your work for competitions, should we copyright them as well?
They will only be in breach of copyright if they happen to use them for commercial purposes. I have happened to assist a senior judge in the Commonwealth Queens Essay Competition and the entries are well over 100,000 essays. They can’t all be copyrighted, can they?

Is music also copyrighted?
For music you have to copyright. You must copyright both the lyrics and the producer to copyright the beats. If someone say sings a cover of your work then they actually pay you what we call royalties.

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Hmm… there is still alot left unaddressed because this issue of submission of original works for competition is breeding a lot of academic theft.

More so, promoters of competition are sometimes guilty of slicing parts of peoples original works to replicate another. Especially when it comes to research works.

Velma Sharlene


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