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Corporates using popular memes risking jail, Sh400,000 fines


Kenya Copyright Board ( KECOBO) has warned internet users against generating memes from copyrighted content. In a statement released on various social media, they said:

"A meme generated without the authority of the copyright owner is an infringement on their copyright particularly the exclusive rights to reproduce, copy, adapt and publish since the original photograph or video undergoes some alteration and incorporation of a text.."

The statement was released days after internet users generated memes from videos shared by comedians Tula and Arap Marindich. In their Kalenjin dialect, the comics mimicked the world championship drivers who participated in the Safari Rally which took place in Naivasha two months ago.

The clip has since gone viral, even crossing international borders as global social media users captured moments from the video and turned them into reaction memes. The video itself has garnered over 40000 views on TikTok.

Memelords, the users who create content based on videos or images, are considered copyright holders, and they have the exclusive rights to copy, reproduce, make adaptations, publish and broadcast their work for a fixed period established by the copyright Act.

According to KECOBO, the use of memes on social media is tolerated. Its use for commercial purposes, however can attract significant civil liability. Corporates, therefore, have been asked to consider conducting diligence on the status of photographs or videos before being tempted to join in the fun.

According to the Copyright Act section 38 (6a), " A person convicted of an offence under this section shall be liable  in the case of a first conviction to  a fine not exceeding four hundred thousand shillings, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both."


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