Kenya Copyright Board Statement on National Anthem Copyright Saga

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Kenyans are reeling from a disturbing revelation that a foreign company has claimed copyright of the Kenyan national Anthem.

De Wolfe Music, the holder of the copyright to a rendition of our national anthem, is a UK-based company.

YouTube screengrab showing De Wolfe as the copyright owner of the National Anthem of Kenya

A video from YouTube channel 2nacheki reveals that the claimant is even generating ad revenue from the national anthem courtesy of AdREv, an online ad agency.

Following this shocking revelation, the Kenya Copyright Board has come out and weighed in on the saga.

According to the board, copyright claims by De Wolfe Music and other are invalid.

Part of a press statement the board released states:

The Kenya Copyright Board wishes to state it is indeed true the government has copyright for its commissioned works for up to 50 years.
The National Anthem is over 50 years and has thus fallen into public domain. However, given the place of national Anthem in any country and the provisions of the National Flags, Emblems and Names Act (Cap 99 laws of Kenya) there is additional protection of the anthem against misuse and improper use.
Under that act, the use of the National Anthem, emblems, names and other similar symbols is restricted and its use shall be subject to written permission by the minister in charge of interior.
Arising out of this incident, there is need to further secure the use of these national symbols by making amendments to the Copyright Act to expressly state that even where copyright in certain government works is expired, the use of such works shall still be subject to authorisation as required under the National Flags, Emblems and Names Act.
The alleged claim for copyright by this company or any other original rendition of the National Anthem cannot therefore be supported. The case of derivative must therefore fail on the above grounds as well.

We are closely following these developments and will keep you informed.

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