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Copyright Board Issues Warning to Corporates About Meme Reproduction

Memes are some of the most entertaining products of the social media craze. We use them for multiple reasons, but they are primarily put out there for fun and to make us laugh.

Every other month, internet users generate new meme content based on what is happening over that period. This week, for instance, there have been thousands, probably millions of meme circulations featuring comedians Arap Marindich and Tula. The two Kenyan funny men were poking fun at the recently concluded Safari Rally that took place at Naivasha. Their presentation was entertaining based on their facial expressions, which have since garnered interest in the social media community.

The faces were used by big brands and ordinary people alike. Sporting brands such as AS Roma’s Swahili Twitter account, which is known for its hilarious tweets, used comedians to make genuine jokes for our entertainment. Others swung in and were equally funny (based on what is funny to you).


The development, however, has raised other concerns, including a warning from the Kenya Copyrights Board. The Board is now making it clear that a copyright holder ‘has the exclusive rights to copy, reproduce, make adaption, publish and broadcast their work for a fixed period established under the Copyright Act.’

Furthermore, KECOBO is now making it clear that a meme should be generated after the copyright holder has been consulted.

“Therefore, a meme generated without the authority of the copyright owner is an infringement on their copyright particularly the exclusive rights reproduce, copy, adapt, and publish since the original photograph or video undergoes some alteration and incorporation of text,” warns the Board in a statement.  

However, the Board has clarified some issues.

First, meme usage on social media can be tolerated.

Its creation and use for commercial reasons, and without permission from the copyright holders, is not allowed.

“It is worth noting that in some cases, content used for generating memes may be in the public domain or released under creative common license,” adds the Board.

To this end, corporate entities must therefore consider conducting due diligence before they take part in a meme reproduction.


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