Lupita Nyong’o must be smarting from embarrassment wherever she is in Hollywood following a letter written by no fewer than 3200 Hollywood companies, led by, among others, Netflix, Walt Disney Studios, Universal City Studios and Warner Brothers. The letter, which was a stinging rebuke, and also a call for action from the Kenyan government also included giant publishers like Bloomsbury, Penguin Random House and HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide.
The letter from the conglomerate asked Kenya to overhaul copyright legislation by introducing tougher penalties for both individuals and corporates aiding copyright violations.
River road is the unofficial bootleg capital of East Africa, and is known through out the continent for production of counterfeits, not just in the film and entertainment industry, but also in products such as garments, motor Ware and even academic papers.
Now that they’ve caught the attention of none other than Hollywood, things are expected to get tighter, especially since the letter has been pegged to the negotiating objectives in the Kenya-US trade talks that require Kenya’s commitment before the bilateral deal between the two countries is signed.
“Kenya’s copyright legal and enforcement frameworks remain deficient, and piracy, particularly online, remains a significant barrier for the creative industries in Kenya,” said IIPA, in a letter to the US Congress. The lobby wants the overhaul of copyright laws to be made a condition for Kenya in the ongoing trade negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that are expected to form a model for similar US bilateral deals with other African countries.
“These negotiations should be a catalyst for the government of Kenya to take the necessary steps to modernise Kenya’s copyright legal and enforcement regimes and improve its marketplace for legitimate digital trade in copyright-protected materials,” said the lobby in the letter.
“IIPA is hopeful that the US-Kenya negotiations will both build on the positive achievements of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and depart from certain provisions that are problematic.”