Personal Finance

New law will curb abuse of online products copyright


Copyright rights include visual works like photos and paintings. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Internet has been a great enabler of e-commerce and a large percentage of businesses have an online presence. It is very difficult to do business in today’s world if you have not digitised your enterprise.

Digital marketing is prevalent as it is cheaper, accessible and reaches a wider target audience.

Most platforms that foster digital marketing, for example, Facebook and YouTube give free access to the business, offering them cheaper advertising platforms.

Increased use of digital technologies, especially the Internet, means there has been an increased risk of copyright infringements through the Internet.

Copyright rights include visual works like photos and paintings, audios include speeches, music and poems; while audio visual includes videos and lastly literary works which protects writings like books, articles and journals.

There has been a lot of online infringement of copyrighted works.

A lot of people copy the whole or a substantial part of another person’s website when creating their websites. For example in a case I came across the copying was almost similar in entirety. What many website content creators may be oblivious to is that there are copyright rights granted to the first owner of a website that contains original content. Therefore it is an infringement to copy the content of another person’s website. Some websites contain infringing material in re-publishing copyrighted works without authority, for example, a Web page that contains large excerpts of a book would be liable for infringing on the author’s literary works.

There are some businesses, which infringe on online copyright, for example, websites that allow users to download music at a fee, without the authority or a licence from the original owner of the work.

Others are websites that allow users to download movies or access academic resources such as books and journal without consent of the owners of the works.


Before the enactment of the Copyright Amendment Act 2017 a few weeks ago, redress against such infringers could only be sought in the court where the copyright holder sought injunctions against the culprits.

However, with the passing of the Act, it is easier for a copyright holder to rein in an infringer as the law allows for a remedy known as a “takedown” notice. This is a notice by the original owner of the works to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to remove infringed works.

For example, if there is a website that is similar to yours and infringes on your original work, you can serve the ISP a takedown notice.

The notice must be in writing and state in detail the works which have been infringed on.

It must also set out the content that you want the ISP to take down.

The letter should be copied to the regulators. The effect of such a notice — unless it is opposed — is that the ISP is required to take down the infringing online content within 48 hours.

The effect of this provision means that it will preserve originality in digital content.

Website developers may be forced to be creative rather than copy-pasting attractive sites.

Websites that sell music, books and movies without the authority of the creators could also be pursued under this provision.

However, the provision does not provide for monetary damages for infringement.

Therefore, the one who seeks monetary compensation for infringement will still have to file a suit.