Business Educational


Written by Jaymo YoungGee
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As we know plagiarism and copyright

infringement are not the same thing!

The key distinguishing factor is the use

intended. A copyright infringer copy-

pastes/performs/ broadcasts/reproduces/

translates your work in order to derive

some commercial benefit. On the other

hand, a plagiarizer copy-pastes/performs/

broadcasts/reproduces/translates your

work in order to assume your identity as

the author for purposes of recognition

and attribution. Therefore every case of

copyright infringement can also be

plagiarism but not all cases of plagiarism

amount to copyright infringement. So the

law rightly recognizes copyright

infringement as a criminal offence but

not plagiarism.

Plagiarism is however widely considered

as unethical and can result in expulsion

or strong reprimand in almost all

institutions of learning as well as in

certain professions like journalism.

Therefore the onus is on poets and writers

to show that the case of plagiarism

complained of also amounts to copyright

infringement by showing that the work is

being used for commercial gain without

the poets’ or writers’ consent.

As far as protection goes, poets and

writers writing online are encouraged to

add a generic tag of “(c) (author’s name)

2011, All Rights Reserved” at the end of

every work they upload online. Your

contact details should also be easily

accessible both on each individual work

and on your site/blog in case attempts

are made by a third party to contact you

regarding consent to use your copyright


It must be stressed that victims of

copyright infringement use the courts

system only as a last resort. Litigation in

Kenya is both expensive and time-

consuming. The solution is therefore to

try and settle out of court by confronting

copyright infringers and plagiarizers

directly. In the case of copyright

infringement, I would add that the Kenya

Copyright Board (KECOBO) has State

Counsels (paid by your taxes) who are

more than willing to act as independent

arbitrators and facilitate meetings at

KECOBO’s offices between both parties in

the dispute with a view to address the

infringement issue and arrive at a suitable conclusion.

Written by YoungGee Kenya

About the author

Jaymo YoungGee


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