The government has cautioned corporates against the use of memes generated from photos and videos without consent from the original content creators.
In a statement on Friday, August 5, 2022, the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) said commercial use of the content amounts to copyright infringement and could attract civil liability.
KECOBO was reacting to a viral meme generated from a video of two comedians, Arap Marindich and Tula Chemoget, imitating World Rally Championship (WRC) drivers at the Safari Rally in Naivasha.
"The memes have been utilized by individuals and corporates thereby raising significant copyright concerns," KECOBO said.
"A Copyright holder has the exclusive rights to copy, reproduce, make adaptation, publish, and broadcast their work for a fixed period established under the Copyright Act.
"In that regard, a copyright owner can create a meme from his photograph or video in exercise of their rights under copyright. Such memes can be exploited for the benefit of the author through advertising and as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)."
RESPONSIBLE USE OF MEMES
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 photo or video undergoes alteration and incorporation of a text. pic.twitter.com/hBShyHJ7Mc— Kenya Copyright Board (@KenyaCopyright) August 5, 2022
The board insists that individuals intending to use such works for commercial purposes must obtain express permission from the creators.
"Therefore, 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," KECOBO added.
"While the use of memes in social media is tolerated, its creation and use for commercial purposes can attract significant civil liability and must be cleared from the authors."
The board urged corporates to conduct due diligence before using any works for monetary gain.
"It is worth noting that in some cases, content used for generating memes may be in public domain or released under creative commons license," the board stated.
"Consequently, corporate bodies must consider conducting due diligence on the status of photographs or videos before being tempted to join the fun."
Arap Marindich becomes internet sensation
The viral video of Arap Marindich, whose real name is Kennedy Kipkorir Lang'at, was shot in June.
In the video, the dusty comedian is heard explaining how extreme and tense the Safari rally was, due to the bad terrain.
“The race was fun but unfortunately we found ourselves in the bush, look at these branches which stuck inside our car, we even almost rolled over. All we could see was white drivers passing us by in the bush,” Marindich said.
An equally funny Tula acted as the funny man's navigator in the clip.
Hundreds of memes have been reproduced from the clip and shared widely in other countries in Africa and Europe.