EIFL has provided comments to the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) on the draft Intellectual Property Bill, 2020, which aims to consolidate existing laws relating to intellectual property.
The draft Bill also proposes mandating the development of a national strategy and policy on intellectual property, a potentially useful means of framing copyright within national priority areas such as literacy and education, digital inclusion, research and innovation. A national strategy also provides the opportunity to highlight the place of libraries in national information infrastructures that help deliver on government policies, and the need for copyright laws to support library activities and services in pursuit of these public interest objectives.
Since the main objective of the Bill is to consolidate existing laws, such as the Industrial Property Act, the Trade Marks Act and the Copyright Act, EIFL’s comments focus on differences between the existing laws and the Bill (rather than matters of substance in the text of the Bill). Our comments concern the section ‘Copyright and Related Rights’.
First, the definitions found in the Copyright Act No. 12 of 2001 seem to be missing in the Bill. These statutory definitions, that define basic terms such as ‘accessible format copy’ and ‘reproduction’, are essential to the understanding and interpretation of the law and should be included in the Bill.
Second, while the Bill refers to a Schedule containing the exceptions and limitations, the Schedule itself has not been included. The Schedule in the 2001 Copyright Act contains four categories of exceptions: General exceptions and limitations, Educational Institutions, Libraries and Archives and Broadcasting. For clarity and avoidance of doubt, these exceptions, that are of critical importance to libraries and education, are an integral part of the copyright system in Kenya and should also be part of the Bill.
The Kenya Libraries and Information Services Consortium (KLISC), EIFL’s partner in Kenya, also submitted comments on the draft Bill to the Kenya Copyright Board. KLISC additionally requested a review of the copyright provisions in the Bill that do not fully address the digital transformation in society; a cross-reference to the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities adopted by Kenya in 2017, and inclusion of a table of contents to aid reading of the 154-page Bill.
The merger of existing legislation in Kenya into a single law on intellectual property comes from a recommendation of the Presidential Task Force on Parastatal Reforms (2013). Other IP-related recommendations of the task force include the merger of three state bodies, the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA), to create a new agency known as the Kenya Intellectual Property Office (KIPO).
In April 2020, KECOBO invited stakeholders to send feedback on the Bill.
Read the IP Bill, 2020 here.