How to protect your digital work in Kenya and beyond

Personal finance

How to protect your digital work in Kenya and beyond


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For an online business, jurisdictional challenges can arise when protecting your work in other countries. PHOTO | SHUTTER STOCK

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Summary

  • While Kenya’s law contains good provisions for copyright protection and technological measures, each country has its own laws. For an online business, jurisdictional challenges can arise when protecting your work in other countries.

In the future, e-commerce will be the new way of doing business. Although Kenya does not have a stand-alone e-commerce law, several legislative changes have recently been made which will provide good support for e-commerce.

One of the unique characteristics of e-commerce is that a good percentage of it takes place in the cyber world where there are no borders. Competency issues remain a challenge when running an online business.

Kenya’s copyright laws received a boost last year when the Copyright Amendment Act was enacted. This law contains several new provisions that support electronic commerce. Due to Covid-19, many entrepreneurs are working from home, which means many businesses are run digitally. For example, many universities now offer online learning as opposed to traditional face-to-face interaction.

Companies in training such as personal coaching also offer their services on online platforms.

In doing so, materials and resources such as books, lectures and the like are shared through the platforms.

Original works must be protected by law. Under copyright laws, these works were considered copyrightable. A PowerPoint slide or e-books, for example, could be copyrighted as visual works while an online video as an audiovisual work.

Additional protection may be granted to these works by using digital rights systems (DRM). Our law qualifies them as technical protection measures.

A technological protection measure is any device designed to prevent or restrict certain acts against works. Platforms like Digify allow authors to install DRM on their works. These DRMs are diverse and include password protection, copy and print limitation, and watermarks.

The law provides technological protection measures and states that it will be considered a copyright infringement if a third party manipulates the DRM to access the works illegally. It is therefore a forgery to bypass passwords, delete them or modify them. The proven infringement gives right to certain remedies such as injunctions, damages and delivery.

Therefore, for those who provide their services through digital platforms, here are some tips to protect your works. As long as they fall under one of the copyright sub-categories, they should be protected. Go further by using DRM to protect your works, especially if you are looking to market your content. This means that only paying people will be able to access your works.

It was only recently that an application was launched to allow people in the creative sector to host their works. This means that plays and live performances will be available digitally against payment of a royalty. The government plans to launch a multi-million virtual library soon. This will give paying users access to many resources.

For such works, technological protection measures are mandatory to minimize attacks on third parties.

While Kenya’s law contains good provisions for copyright protection and technological measures, each country has its own laws. For an online business, jurisdictional challenges can arise when protecting your work in other countries. Fortunately, copyright protection is automatic in countries that have signed the Berne Convention. This means that your work is protected in many countries.

However, some countries like Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Cambodia, Maldives, Seychelles and Angola have not ratified the Bern Convention. This means that you must use their national laws to protect your works. Otherwise, an infringement can occur if you do not apply for national protection.

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About Donnie R. Losey

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