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The year 2021 confronted us with the Covid-19 pandemic. During this period, a huge number of Kenyans were reduced to couch potatoes and a niche gained popularity at a fast pace. The business was scarce and money was barely enough. However, it is often said that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade out of it. Innovation took centre stage among the youth. The entertainment industry took a drastic turn; one that brewed smiles and laughter amidst a global pandemic. YouTube and TikTok were exploding literally. Families spent the little savings they had gathered, not on food as one would quickly guess but on buying internet bundles to keep abreast with the new developments online. The sumptuous cooking of Mama Onyango and Mama Mwende was a product of YouTube recipe videos. They loudly hymned ‘Ngumi mbwegze’ and ‘Mbogi genje’ lyrics. ‘Baba Otis’ and ‘Mama Otis’ had Kenyans on their backs as everyone marvelled at the massive levels of talent in the Country.

The question I intend to discuss in this article is:

Do our young stars know the value of safeguarding their intellectual wealth through the registration of Copyrights?

What is a copyright? Section 22 of the Copyrights Act No. 12 of 2001 lists the following as eligible for registration of copyrights: literary works, musical works, artistic works, dramatic works, audio-visual works, sound recordings, and broadcasts.

Literary works include school dissertations, research thesis, book manuscripts, etc. artistic works on the other hand include architecture, carvings, ceramics, etc. examples of audiovisual works include motion pictures, short films, trailers, etc. It is crucial to note however that mere recording of a video or writing of a script does not entitle a person to copyrights over the works. The work must demonstrate that sufficient effort was expended on making the work, giving it an original character. Noteworthy also is the fact that the work must have been reduced from material to form; That is to say, for literary works, they must be in written form, for audiovisual works, they must be in recorded form

The Law

Registration of Copyrights is governed by the provisions of:

  1. The Constitution
  2. The Copyrights Act No. 12 of 2001
  3. WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT)

It will be interesting to know that article 11 (c) of the Constitution places an obligation on the state to promote your intellectual property rights. The Kenya Copyright Board is the organ mandated to ensure this is done. One of its functions includes maintaining an effective data bank on authors and their works. Therefore, creatives, authors, and other artists should take advantage of this great opportunity and have their works recognized legally.

What is the benefit of registering copyrights?

Articles 6 to 8 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) grant the exclusive right to an author to control its translation, broadcasting, or distribution by way of sale, rent, hire, loan, etc. This means that whatever artistic form of art you produce; you are entitled to make money from it.

On the flip side, what is the disadvantage of not registering copyrights over such material?

The answer is simple. You have just sold over the rights to make profits from the products of your mind.

In as much as section 22(5) allows an author to make claim for infringement of copyrights regardless of the fact that the same is not registered, proving the claim is made easier through registration of copyrights.


The Covid-19 pandemic brought stars to the limelight. ‘Ngafanya bizness legit’, ‘Wakurugenzii!’ and other phrases have become household phrases. It is essential that the essence of registering copyrights is amplified to ensure that such creatives not only derive maximum economic gain from their trade but get the full protection of their intellectual property.

NB: Kindly note that this piece does not constitute a binding legal opinion. The CR Advocates LLP team is highly competent in Intellectual Law practice and is more than ready to advise further on your legal concerns.

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