NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 19 – Raila Odinga’s former advisor Miguna Miguna now says he will sue the Nation Media Group over breach of copyright after his book ‘Peeling Back the Mask’ went viral on the Internet.
He said on Thursday that he would take legal action against the media house for what he said was violation of both the serialisation agreement and copyright.
Miguna said he only gave access of the e-copy of the book to NMG which is culpable for leaking it.
“The only good thing is that the version they are peddling is not exactly the same; it has no pictures, the cover and obviously no index, which will come from the reprints,” he said in an email response to a query by Capital FM News.
When contacted, Nation Media Group Chief Executive Officer Linus Gitahi said they did not breach the contract and their only motive was to serialise the book, which he said, they did successfully.
The Kenya Copyright Board Executive Director Marisella Ouma said the penalty for copyright infringement in the Kenyan law is Sh800,000 or a prison term not exceeding 10 years.
“If the case is that somebody managed to get the book from somewhere without the authority of the rights holder and then put it onto the Internet and circulated it, then the publisher and the author can actually bring legal action against them. But you see, under copyright law, it doesn’t say that the person who originally circulated it is basically the person who would be reproducing, distributing, selling, renting so whether you are in the first or fifth tier, it doesn’t matter,” she warned.
In an interview with Capital FM News, she said all literary works are protected under the Copyright Act.
“The copyright will not protect the idea or concept but once you have reduced it in a particular format, then that particular form is what is protected by copyright automatically,” she said adding: “If anybody needs to distribute this work (electronic and non-electronic media) or make copies they have to get the permission of the rights holders so you cannot just pick anybody’s work off the Internet, make copies and distribute it whether it is on the social networks or wherever it is because that amounts to distribution.”
She said such distribution amounted to ‘killing’ an author’s work where they don’t get any reward in terms of sale.
“If you go onto the Internet you will find very many books that the authors have given express permission and even then when they give the permission, its conditional like they will tell you, you may distribute it to as many people as possible for as long as you acknowledge the author and you do not use it for commercial purposes.”
She said under section 35 and 38 of the Copyright Act anybody who picks another person’s work and redistributes it without express permission from the rights holder is liable to criminal and civil infringement.
“The rights holders have the right to protect their works and they are more often than not paramount to the rights of access unless it is in public interest but there is a delicate balancing act because of defining the parameters of public interest,” she said.
Miguna launched his sensational book last Saturday and has given wide ranging interviews in which he has made grave allegations against the Prime Minister and his close associates.
During the launch of his book, he said: “Every single leader here, I can take to The Hague. I have it right here. And I am saying come baby come… when I decide in a500-page book not to say what the Orange Democratic Movement did in the PEV, they should take me, kneel before me and kiss my feet. That is how angry I am when I see some people running around like idiots.”