By CONRAD ONYANGO
A new framework that will compel universities and colleges to pay for duplication of copyright-protected materials has been developed by The Reproduction Rights Society of Kenya, KOPIKEN, but public universities have shown they are not ready to play part.
The society yesterday said public universities infringe bulk of the literary works, mostly on books out of stock, but have been reluctant to pay royalties to owners of the work, what now worries local authors and the collection body.
A few other private universities, it revealed have a loan scheme for selected set of books, pushing for extra costs to students against library and exams charges.
Under the new regime, training institutions will be required to get a license from the society and accept a mutual survey of the universities which will determine the amount it will be charged for use of protected materials.
Today the umbrella reproduction body is expected to meet 20 representatives from public and private universities to fine tune the model that will be used to track use of protected copies, licensing with the society and acceptance of a joint survey on the run away piracy.
There will be a uniform licensing fee, while charges on use of protected works will be gauged by number of students and academic staff per institution.
“After agreeing to pay the licensing fee, plans are that institutions should allow us to determine exactly what goes on in the university,”said KOPIKEN general manager, Sharon Musimbi.
However, it has emerged that only five universities have confirmed their participation, with Kenyatta University being the only state owned institution ready to pay for copyrighted materials its students are using.
“Most public training institutions believe that they are allowed to copy. But if you look at the copyrights Acts the portion they are allowed is so small. Universities duplicate those portions bigger in multiple copies,” she said.
Musimbi said the Act only allows copying of two passages of a given work, but universities exergerates this.
The society is mandated to link authors to consumers of literary works by helping them track rate of usage.
“Reaching decision makers has been a toll order for us, especially with public universities but its a bit easier with private institutions,” confirmed Musimbi.
Most public universities are shy to face imminent legal consequences on their actions, they fear can be used against them in a court of law, according to her.
The trend is expected to intensify as more authors upload their works online-open to cross-border piracy related scams.
KOPIKEN is trying to replicate a framework it developed to track illegal circulation of licensed works through cyber cafe’s that has been denying local authors millions of shillings annually.
It has also recruited agents to help in collection of royalties, annual tariffs charged based on number of copier machines per copy shop.
Latest survey by Strategic research indicates that 7 million licensed materials are illegally duplicated in cyber shops annually at a cost of Sh 14 million per 100 shops alone.