War on piracy: Stakeholders in Kenya's creative industry say that for every day that implementation of Section 35B, C, and D is delayed, their segment bleeds Kes252 million ($2.2 Million), inclusive of tax to the government.

Industry lobby Partners Against Piracy (PAP) is calling for a speedy rollout of sections of the Copyright Act to help players in the segment recover from the Covid-19 pandemic while giving rise to over 50,000 jobs.

PAP is now pushing for the implementation of Sections 35 B, C and D of the Copyright Act, in close liaison with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) within the next 100 days.

“The estimated gross losses to online piracy in Kenya costs the industry over Kes92 billion per year. That is, Kes15 billion lost through pirated music affecting artists on Safaricom Baze Music, Boomplay, Mdundo, Spotify, etc,” said PAP interim convener and MyMovies.Africa co-founder Mike Strano during this year’s World IP Day.

He added that Kes32 billion is also lost through pirated videos, eroding gains for creators on Safaricom Baze, MyMovies.Africa, Netflix, Showmax, and YouTube among others.

An estimated Kes5 billion is also lost from cinema while Kes8 billion is lost from television negatively affecting content creators on MultiChoice, Star Times, and the local tv channels

Further, the country is losing about Kes29 billion through trade in pirated books, magazines, and newspapers even as Kes3 billion is lost in gaming, explained Strano.

Additionally, runaway piracy costs the government over Kes12.69 billion annually in unrecovered VAT, approximately Kes2.49 billion in unpaid corporation tax, Kes1.07 billion in lost income tax for residents, and Kes1.13 billion in income tax for non-residents.

“Pirates do not register their businesses and do not pay tax. They also do not create employment. Reducing piracy in Kenya can create at least 50,000 jobs. Online piracy is a cybercrime perpetrated by terrorists and global syndicates, and must be dealt with through stakeholder participation, especially Internet Service Providers,” says Strano.

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Established in 2019, PAP is a multi-sectoral coalition of local and international associations, societies, and companies, representing the interests of thousands of creatives in Kenya and the world, especially in the protection of intellectual property against piracy.

MultiChoice Kenya’s Managing Director, Nancy Matimu, highlighted the importance of piracy knowledge for all: “I interact with business leaders, lawmakers, and consumers alike who always touch on our price point, but they do not seem to understand that piracy takes away from the revenue streams of creatives. There are small businesses distributing content on various IPs, but they do not know that they are actually participating in a crime. Piracy sensitization is the only way we will safeguard the futures of our youth”.

On legislation and policy challenges facing the industry, Kenya Copyright Board Executive Director Edward Sigei said, “creatives, as the owners of copyright and related rights, are a critical tool in the fight against piracy. They have influence and reach to advocate for policies, that directly affect their revenue streams. This is the only way that we can empower and advocate for our creative industry.”

Kenya Film Commission CEO Timothy Owase, added, “for our film industry to create wealth, these laws need to be implemented. We also need to appreciate the creators of this content as contributors to formal business in the country. That is why in KFC we are working with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics to collect data on how the film industry contributes to the economy annually.”

During this year’s World Intellectual Property Day which was themed: intellectual property and the youth, PAP hosted creative sector players in a forum focusing on the piracy-related challenges they are facing.

“Lack of structures in the music industry on how we make money from our art is discouraging”, said rapper King Kaka. “If these structures were put in place, the government would view the creative industry as a multi-billion-shilling sector that is taxable.”

Industry stakeholders were urged to change their attitude and perception toward the creative business as it could hugely contribute to the growth of Kenya’s GDP.

“Creative industry is the next industrial revolution in Africa”, said Strano, adding, “government and corporates in Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, and Tanzania place a higher value on their creatives. Are we going to allow Kenya to be left behind?”

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