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The battle against piracy in Kenya has taken a step backwards following a move by the Kenyan parliament to repeal the provisions setting out minimum standards for online enforcement in the country.

In addition to eliminating legal mechanisms on notice and takedown procedures and provisions establishing ISPs liability, the Copyright Reform Bill also proposes to repeal the section that enables copyright owners to file injunctions to deter infringement of their rights.

Both the Kenyan Publishers Association (KPA) and the International Publishers Association (IPA) have reacted strongly to the decision.  Lawrence Njagi, Chairman of the KPA, said:  “While educational publishers in Kenya have worked tirelessly to produce digital education resources to make the digital education reform in Kenya a reality, partnering alongside the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, this Bill will leave us exposed and unable to enforce our rights and those of our authors. We urge the members of the National Assembly to reconsider. How can publishers be able to invest if essential laws to secure the value chain of publishing are to change every three years?

The IPA says online piracy remains a serious problem in Kenya, affecting its creative industries’ ability to secure the investments required to develop and maintain digital business models.  “The 2019 review was seen by creative industries and other stakeholders as an important step in creating the necessary conditions for a fair digital marketplace. The current Bill is not based on an impact assessment of the needs of creative industries, nor does it present a reason for eliminating the online enforcement provisions implemented in 2019.”

The IPA’s Secretary General, José Borghino, said: “This potential step backwards in Kenyan Copyright Law makes no sense. The 2019 reform made Kenya a beacon in the African landscape. Local publishers across the continent have been discouraged from going digital due to weak online enforcement and the fear of even worse digital piracy than the terrible physical piracy they already face. Under the cover of professing to support local creators this Bill will do exactly the opposite, setting Kenyan publishers on the back foot in the global digital market place.”