06 May, 2008

KOPIKEN puts photocopying Bureaus on notice

In a notice by the “Chairman”, KOPIKEN, which is variously described as “the Reproduction Rights Organization of Kenya and the body mandated by the Kenya Copyright Board to collect royalties on behalf of relevant right holders within Kenya”, has put on notice commercial photocopying bureaus requiring such bureaus to obtain licences for “reproduction of copyright protected material”.

KOPIKEN is also targeting bureaus and shops offering associated services such as scanning, digitizing and “other forms of reproduction.”

The notice sternly warns, “any unauthorized copying will attract civil penalties and criminal sanctions” under section 38 of the Copyright Act.


The notice is too brief and couched in not a user-friendly language. As way of educating and informing not only the photocopying bureaus but also the common wananchi offering commercial photocopying services, KOPIKEN should have at least expounded the requirements of the law in a user-friendly language.

First, it is not clear how the phrase “within Kenya” ought to be interpreted. It is debatable whether it means that KOPIKEN “collects royalties within Kenya” or that KOPIKEN collects royalties on behalf of “rights holders within Kenya.” By all means the former is true and the question is whether that mandate is restricted to representing right holders who are in Kenya as the later meaning seems to suggest.

Secondly, the notice is not very clear whom exactly KOPIKEN is targeting to licence. In one paragraph, the notice says it is an offence under section 38 of the Copyright Act to carry out photocopying business without a KOPIKEN licence. Yet in another paragraph, the notice seems to specifically target “reproducers of copyright protected materials.” The question is whether anybody offering commercial photocopying services is required to be KOPIKEN licensed or whether the licence only applies to reproducers of copyright protected materials. Ideally, it is possible to operate a photocopying business without reproducing copyright protected materials.

Lastly, though the notice does not say so, presumably, the licence comes at a fee, and KOPIKEN perhaps ought to first visit the Universities, which as reported here were recently classified as the worst offenders in photocopying books.


  1. This is an extortion ring - Kenyans are tired of these schemes hatched by individuals to enrich themselves.

    1. This kopiken guys were demanding 1500 for us to get their "license".. The question is, who is allowing this,gok or copright?
      Means, if I have paid for the kopiken license, I will be able to photocopy and sell copyrighted materials...isn't it?

  2. in fact iam to the point,, how can somebody just wake up and say that any photocopy shop should pay a fee. what for and yet the the lincene is meant for copyright protected documents.I personally I can spend a whole year without photocopying a book because students complain that we are too expensive. If kopiken needs the money for protected works then they should be specific but think of what is not happening they should first of all carry research and see whether all shops do that and to what quantity and the license should be issued as per the work done but not as their imagination

  3. then their lincence should start right from manufacturers

  4. commercial photocopiers must not be forced to pay for photocopying business by kopiken but rather those intending to photocopy the copyrighted books to pay, nevertheless they receive loyalties to protect their material. asking money from photocopirs is greed and is uncalled for.

  5. May I say that I am very disappointed that a young man appeared in my shop with police officer and molested my wife she ,reason that she had not paid for license,they have no office in our town and they last time to see them was 2012.I say i am feeling very bad .