While the world marks intellectual property day tomorrow, 26th April, authors and book publishers in Kenya may not be in the mood to celebrate. High on the heels of a report (reported here and here) that 80% of local and international brands are counterfeited in Kenya and that 97% of local music is pirated; a report in the Daily Nation (print edition) indicates that authors and publishers in Kenya have “little to write home about” due to rampant piracy of books.
It is reported that many authors have been forced to engage in extra jobs to make ends meet. According to the Kenya Publishers Association estimates, the industry loses about Ksh. 6 billion annually through piracy and copyright infringement, with universities being the worst offenders in photocopying books.
However it does seem that a ray of hope is on the horizon. While the German and French forces are watching the neighbouring Somali coast for the sea pirates, the Kenya Copyright Board has teamed up with the police force to crackdown on copyright offenders and the effort seems to be bearing fruit.
The team conducted a raid last month and arrested people found printing books illegally. Tellingly the books were The River Between by the renowned Kenyan author Prof Ngugi wa Thiongo and An Enemy Of The People by Henrik Ibsen, both being set books in the secondary school curriculum.
While the copyright Act is relatively modern having been enacted in 2001, enforcement has been a major problem and only time will tell whether the combined force of the Copyright Board and the police will this time round manage to put up a permanent river between the two arch enemies.
More on Coast of Barbary here