Gov’t on the spot as British company copyrights Kenya National Anthem tune


Gov't on the spot as British company copyrights Kenya National Anthem tune
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In Summary

  • This came after a Kenyan YouTuber’s video ranking the continent’s best national anthems – which included Kenya’s – was flagged down over copyright infringement.
  • The content creator – who runs the ‘2nacheki’ channel – claimed he was informed that AdRev Publishing had registered the complaint on behalf of De Wolfe Music.
  • The British company, as it emerges, owns the rights to the Kenyan National Anthem.

The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) was on Tuesday thrust into the spotlight for apparently leaving the country’s National Anthem vulnerable and subject to copyright claim by other international entities.

This came after a Kenyan YouTuber’s video ranking the continent’s best national anthems – which included Kenya’s – was flagged down over copyright infringement.

The content creator – who runs the ‘2nacheki’ channel – claimed he was informed that AdRev Publishing had registered the complaint on behalf of De Wolfe Music; a British company which, as it emerges, owns the rights to the Kenyan National Anthem.

A search on De Wolfe’s website, however, reveals that they have only copyrighted an arrangement/instrumental of the Kenyan national anthem, as opposed to the one which had been published by ‘2nacheki’ in which there is an actual choir singing along.

In a statement released following the furore, KECOBO has since acknowledged that “the government has copyright for its commissioned works for up to 50 years,” which, in the case of the National Anthem, reportedly lapsed in 2013 and was never reviewed.

“The National Anthem is over 50 years and has thus fallen into public domain. However, given the place of National Anthem in any country and the provisions of the National Flags, Emblems and Names Act (Cap 99 laws of Kenya) there is additional protection of the anthem against misuse and improper use,” read the statement.

“Under that Act, the use of the National Anthem, emblems, names and other similar symbols is restricted and its use shall be subject to written permission by the minister in charge of interior.”

The copyright body further notes that amendments need to be made to the Copyright Act to ensure that the use of national symbols and government works remain subject to authorisation even where copyright expires.

“KECOBO is at the moment studying the terms and conditions in YouTube platform with a view to requesting for take down of all content offending the National Anthem by the said company and others as well,” added the statement.

“In addition, there are consultations between KECOBO and relevant state departments on legal and administrative measures to prevent unauthorized copyright claim on the National Anthem now and in future.”

The incident has since caused uproar on social media especially since it comes after claims emerged late last year that film production company Disney had also copyrighted the Swahili phrase ‘Hakuna Matata.’

Below are some of the reactions from Kenyans following the news:

https://twitter.com/observerug/status/1092794543181832193

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Story By Ian Omondi
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