Future of Copyright: Inaugural Kenya National Rights Registry Portal
Copyright is an (intellectual) property right conferred to Works such as musical, literary, artistic, sound recordings, broadcasts, audiovisual and photographic creations inter alia. A Work is eligible for copyright protection if it is original to the creator, reduced into material/fixed form and the author must be a qualified person.
On 14th January, 2020 The president of the Republic of Kenya kick started a renewed drive to streamline and solve the legacy challenges in the music industry through the use of ICT by directing the Ministry of Information Communications and Technology to work with all the industry stakeholders in the creation of a National Rights Registry & Royalty Management system for Collective Management Organizations.
Due to optional/ voluntary registration of Copyright there is a lack of proper documentation on the existence of work and/or its ownership. This is a key reason for numerous infringement disputes, due to difficulty on establishing ownership of the subject works especially in the music industry.
Under Kenyan law, Copyright protection is obtained automatically without the need for registration or other formalities. However, the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) introduced voluntary registration of (already) copyrighted work through physical or online submission of a digital format of the work together with an application form and thereafter payment of prescribed nominal registration fees. Once the application is successful the author is issued with a certificate as prove of ownership, not to confer copyright.
The directive led to the launch of the National Rights Registry Portal (Portal) by KECOBO which is a national central repository portal that will collate details pertaining to ownership of copyright works in Kenya. The Portal also provides an avenue for payment of royalties by copyright users and subsequent payment to copyright holders. This feature supplements Collective Management Organization as intermediaries in respect to direct collection and distribution of royalties therefore creating a better system of management and accountability. The Portal is managed by the KECOBO in collaboration with Collective Management Organizations.
The Portal is accessible through https://nrr.copyright.go.ke/ and allows copyright holders to register and download their copyright. It further enables users to perform searches for all the copyright works registered through the Portal.
The Portal if implemented correctly will create the long lost trust between Collective Management Organization and the creative industry as it aims to create a central way of collating information of works, monitoring, collection and distribution of royalties in the creative industry with the oversight supervision of KECOBO.