The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) has issued a warning to people and corporations about the dangers of utilizing memes for profit without the owners’ permission.
This comes after a flurry of now-viral memes that were inspired by a film made by Kenyan comedians Arap Marindich and Tula in which they can be seen portraying rally drivers while sporting dusty faces.
In a statement issued on Friday, KECOBO CEO Edward Sigei said that other Kenyan businesses had now utilized the memes on various social media sites, posing serious copyright issues.
“A meme is an image, video or text used in social media for humorous or political banter and illustrative of a line of thought on a topic under discussion,” said Mr. Sigei.
“Memes are in most cases static images created from a photograph, illustration, text, or video that is protected by copyright.”
Mr. Sigei claims that the Copyright Act only grants the copyright holder the temporary right to reproduce, publish, and broadcast their work.
“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),” stated Mr. Sigei.
“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.”
Therefore, corporate organisations should think about performing due diligence on the status of images or films before being enticed to join in the fun, he continued.
The Executive Director of KECOBO also stated that even if the use of memes on social media is accepted, their dissemination for profit might result in serious civil liability.
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