How to Sufficiently Acknowledge Copyrighted Materials in Kenya


Violating someone’s copyright is a mistake that can get you into a lot of legal and financial trouble. If your company uses a copyrighted materials without the explicit permission of its holder, then the owner has the legal backing to sue for damages, as well as court costs. To this end, getting permission is a safer alternative.

The best and simple way to get permission to use and image or video is to just ask the copyright holder. If you contact the owner of that material and they grant you permission to use it, then you are on the safe side. If you do not know who holds the rights of a photo or a piece of writing, you can always contact the Kenya Copyright Board office.  

According to the Kenya Copyright law, holders are granted the following rights: distribution to the public of the work by way of sale, rental, lease, loan, importation or similar arrangement; reproduction of the work; communication to the public; translation into other languages; adaptation of the work, such as a novel into a screenplay; and broadcasting of the whole work or a substantial part thereof either in its original form recognisably from the original. 


Just the other day, KECOBO announced some changes regarding how people should acknowledge the use of copyrighted materials. The changes, according to the regulator, were prompted by widespread usage of materials from third parties on social media platform without sufficient acknowledgement. This, KECOBO says, has not sat well with copyright holders.

“Under Copyright law, authors of a copyright work have the right to be adequately acknowledged when portions of their works are used within fair dealing due to moral rights requirements,” said Edward Segei, Executive Director, KECOBO.

Acknowledgement, the regulator says, should include the follows:


  • Name of author
  • Name of the work (if relevant)
  • In social media use cases, the copyright holder should be tagged on the material.

Example: Maasai Mara Lions, Photograph by George Gitau (Cameracrew ltd, Video by Victoria Ouma, Sihamikenya films


  • Illustrators of books and other graphic material, should be clearly and sufficiently acknowledged regardless of the terms of engagement as they hold moral rights

Example: Illustrations by Eliud Kamau, Kamau Graphics, Kingsway House Nairobi.

The posting of portions of a book, the name of the author and publisher must be included for sufficient acknowledgement e.g. ‘My life in love, by Kimani wa Thika, Africa Grup books, Kijabe Street Nairobi’.

Graphic artists are also advised to put watermarks on their works. The same should be done for video.

Copyright law not only gives the author or copyright holder an exclusive right of how a work is to be used and copied, it also provides the necessary protection of the work so the holder of its rights can profit from it.

Unauthorized free distribution of entire images and videos, news articles or music recordings can substantially diminish the market for the original works.