The Copyrights (Amendment) Act 2021

A Big Win For Artists In Kenya

Kenyan artists now have a big relief after the Copyrights (Amendment) Bill 2021 was signed into law on 4th April 2022. Section 2 of the Act defines ring-back tunes to mean subscription music or a tone that is played by a telecommunication operator to the originator of a call. The Act also contains a new revenue sharing formula between the artists and other stakeholders in the industry. Pursuant to section 30C of the Act, the parties to a ring-back tune are to share the net revenue from the sales of the ring back tunes at different percentages with the artists getting the larger percentage. The premium rate service provider will get a share of 7% while the telecommunication operator is to get 16%. The artist or the copyright holder will get 52 % of the revenues earned. 

The new law establishes the National Rights Registry as an office within the copyrights board to perform duties such as digital registration of rights holders and digital registration of copyrights works among others. The registry is in the form of an online portal that will allow any person to access the copyrighted works upon payment of the prescribed fees whereby such amount is channeled to the rights holder. According to the promoter of the Bill which has become a law, Hon Gladys Wanga, the main objective of the law is to amend the Copyright Act of 2001 to provide a fair formula for sharing revenue from ring back tunes between the artists who are the copyrights holders and the telecommunication companies such as Safaricom and Airtel. Pursuant to the new law, the artist is made the main beneficiary by getting a greater share of revenues collected. The Act also repeals provisions on takedown notice in case of copyright infringement incidences, removes the ambiguity in the role of internet service providers, provides for application for injunctions to cure copyright infringements and align the Copyrights Act with other existing legal remedies. The changes introduced by this new law will stabilize the creative industry and increase income for the artists hence boosting the economy at large. Artists will utilize the improved income to set up various businesses and platforms such as established music records and labels that will sign in other upcoming artists on a contractual basis. The overall effect will be a source of employment for young and talented youths who are currently jobless.

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