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Kenyans should learn to respect music copyright

By Editorial - May 19th 2022
 Sauti Sol threatened to sue Azimio la Umoja for copyright infringement. [File]

A Kenyan music band has threatened to sue Azimio la Umoja for copyright infringement. Sauti Sol band members are aggrieved that on Monday, Azimio played their song – Extravaganza - as background music during the unveiling of Martha Karua as Raila Odinga’s running-mate without their consent.

Presumably, copyright infringement was the last thing on the minds of those present, including the event planners. But no matter the circumstances, Sauti Sol’s objection raises a pertinent issue on copyright. Many musicians have over the years lost out on songs they composed because of illegal use and copying.

Copyright is an intellectual property law that protects original works by artists, authors and musicians from unauthorised use by others for gain. It prohibits unsanctioned reproduction or use of such artistic work without the express permission of its owner.

Azimio claims to have paid for the song, but there was a misunderstanding on whether the payment was for the audio or video version of the song. Azimio has since apologised to Sauti Sol.

This incident is one of many involving copyright infringement across Kenya. Indeed, a lot of people are guilty of unlawfully downloading music composed by struggling artistes, and in the process, denying them money realised from the sale of such music. Copyright infringement has either driven many musicians out of business or simply consigned them to a life of penury.

Besides copyright infringement, counterfeiting is responsible for flooding our markets with low quality goods. The tragedy is that while such goods come a dime cheaper, they pose risks. Counterfeit medicines, for instance, expose users to danger. Houses have been known to go up in flames after counterfeit electronic devices blew up.

The Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo) has a duty to enforce rules that protect musicians and deter those who seek to reap where they did not sow. It's is incumbent upon people to respect copyright and patents. Azimio should show its remorse by striking a deal with Sauti Sol.

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