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Though the pandemic may be in the past, its effects and new norms are far from over. As we dispose of facemasks and continue to purchase hand sanitizer, the new normal has still left us with the growth of the digitalisation of goods and services. Surprisingly, music is no exception. Kenya recently introduced a mobile application called Hustle Sasa which has enabled creatives to sell their art directly to consumers. The most recent evidence of this was with Kenyan musician Bein-Aime Alusa’s concert at the beginning of the year. Through the application, the renowned artist can keep making connections and profit through digital streaming and payment. Hustle Sasa is meant to help artists recover revenues lost during the coronavirus lockdown as the stages that many artists know, and love was bare for a season. 

The application allows creatives to stream music, and sell branded merchandise, concert ticket and services all on one application. The win of it all is that artists are not required to pay any set-up costs or monthly fees but receive their payment instantly in their desired revenue outlets. 

As the creative co-founders of hustlesasa, we are thrilled to be part of this game-changing mix of art and tech to help the next generation of African creatives get paid to do what they love.

– Sauti Sol

This has not been the only development in the Kenyan creative scene as it was also announced that artists were to be availed of free legal services and another digital platform to help them benefit from their works. The platform will seek to identify, develop and monetise the talent of artists from various sectors within Kenya. 

It is no secret that the creative industry reaps little returns within East Africa and yet if organisations and countries were able to provide platforms for creatives to earn from their art then this industry would truly flourish. This incentive is urged by the number of artists who are continuously exploited and some enter bad contracts. The legal services that are provided will protect artists within Kenya from entering mentioned contracts as they will be thoroughly scrutinised. In an ideal world, the laws governing copyright infringement should protect artists from this, however, this is not the case. There have been instances of non-compliant users and evidence of fraud. 

Below are a few measures that are to be enforced to promote the arts in Kenya;

i) Encouragement of collaboration between countries. It was shared that with the audio-visual co-production agreement signed between Kenya and South Africa, more artists from the two countries would collaborate. This means that there will be more output of music from Kenyan artists as a whole.

ii) Any individuals found to have stolen earnings from artists generated through creative work shall face penalties. 

iii) As of this year,2023, licencing will only be issued to Collective Management Organisations that have fulfilled their statutory provisions. 

iv) Media houses will be required to clear their royalties before their licences are renewed. 

With all this said and done, Kenya appears to be on the right track to inspiring the arts to thrive. With this said, we need to ask ourselves what measures government can enforce to promote the arts in Uganda. We currently have mobile applications like Quicket.com that helps artists with a platform to sell their products but itis safe to say that a lot more can be done.

The Law of the Mind

Everyone has created or has a friend or a friend of a friend who has created or invented something. These inventions and creations would otherwise be referred to as intellectual property. 

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, these include; inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; symbols, names, and images used in commerce. The law awards these individuals rights, these rights give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period.

Intellectual property rights are categorised into two areas;
i) Copyright and rights related to copyright 
ii) Industrial Property

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Intellectual Property is the oil of the 21st century.

Mark Getty

A. Copyright and rights related to copyright

If you have ever bought a book from a book store, the term copyright may not be new to you. It is usually embedded in the first leaflet of every literary work. However copyright is not limited to books alone, but any artistic work can be protected under copyright.

In simple terms, a copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to the creator of original work or their assignee for a limited period in exchange for public disclosure of the work. This right includes the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. Copyright owners can license or permanently transfer or assign their exclusive rights to others. Copyright protects owners of rights in artistic works from those who may ‘copy.’

A created work is automatically protected by copyright as soon as it exists. However, there are conditions to this. The work must be original ( it must have been developed independently by its creator) and it must be expressed.

Once a piece of work is not original then there is no ground for it to be protected under copyright law. The word ‘original’ does not in this connection mean that the work must be the expression of original or inventive thought. but according to University of London Press Ltd Vs University Tutorial Press Ltd [1916] 2 Ch 601 UK, originality in copyright law does not require that the work be unique and novel but means that the author must have exercised some level of sufficient skill and labour.

Copyright protection in Uganda is governed by the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, of 2006 and the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Regulations of 2010.

Credit: Diala Law

B. Industrial property

The purpose of industrial property law is to protect inventions and industrial or commercial creative work.  Industrial property can be separated into two parts;
i) The first part is characterised as the protection of distinctive signs, in particular trademarks (which distinguish the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings) and geographical indications. A trademark identifies the brand owner of a particular product or service. 

The protection of such distinctive signs aims to stimulate and ensure fair competition and to protect consumers, by enabling them to make informed choices between various goods and services. The protection may last indefinitely, provided they sign in question continues to be distinctive. The perfect example of this can be the distinction between Pepsi and Cocacola.

ii) The second part of industrial property is protected primarily to stimulate innovation, design, and the creation of technology. In this category fall invention (protected by patents), industrial designs, and trade secrets. If you have ever been curious about the KFC chicken recipe, it would ideally fall under trade secrets in industrial property.

 A perfect example of this happened in 2013 when Century Bottling Company Limited (Coca-cola) filed a suit against Harris International, Riham Company over a trademark infringement. The dispute arose after Riham used a 500 ml Riham cola bottle shaped similar to Coca-Cola’s contour bottle, which is a registered trademark in Uganda. It was cited that the imitation would confuse the minds of consumers leading them to think that Riham is associated with coca-cola. The Coca-cola company, therefore, is the holder of the contour bottle shape. An imitation of it amounted to an infringement of their trademark. 

Credit: Mierespaza

So the question is what is your mind coming up with? What ideas or inventions have you dreamt up? And most especially how are you going to protect it?