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How To Copyright A Song In Kenya


What is copyright?

Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country, that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time, with the intention of enabling the creator (e.g. a musician) to receive compensation for their intellectual effort.

When are copyrights created?

Musical and Artistic works cannot be copyrighted unless the work has been written down, recorded or otherwise reduced to material form.

For compositions, the copyright is automatically created when music or lyrics are recorded, put on paper, or otherwise written down in a document

For master recordings, the copyright is created as soon as “a sound recording is fixed, meaning that the sounds must be captured in a medium. This may be “in a digital track, disk, tape, or other formats”.

Which law governs copyrights in Kenya?

The Copyright Act- Act No. 12 of 2001.

Which institution is tasked with registration of copyright in Kenya?

  • The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO)

  • The Board is located on NHIF Building, 5th Floor

How does one register a copyright?

You will need to create an account with the Kenya National Rights Registry Portal first.

What Do You Need Before Creating an Account with NATIONAL RIGHTS REGISTRY (NRR)?

• A mobile phone number where an activation code will be sent.

• Valid National ID Number


• A valid email account.

• You will also need to read and agree to the Terms &Conditions and the privacy policy.

How To Create an Account with Kenya National Rights Registry Portal

  1. Go to using your desktop computer, laptop or your smart phone;

  2. Create an account and then upload your work.

  3. Receive a validation code

  4. Enter the code and complete the account creation process Log in and proceed with the registration as indicated below

Step by Step Guide to Registration of Copyright

Step 1: You will be required to filll the primary details of the copyright owner. These are the details that will be used to generate the copyright certificate.

Step 2: Enter details regarding the copyright work you intend to register in the system. They include copyright category, Sub category, Title of the work, genre, Language label and date released among other details. It is also at this stage where you upload the work.

Step 3: Input the details of the person who owns the copyright. You will be required to fill in the details of the author/ authors. You will also be required to assign them their percentage of ownership of the work.

Step 4: Upload any supporting document you may have that can show ownership of this work.

Step 5: This stage gives you the opportunity to review what you have captured in your application and amend if necessary. Click the ‘register copyright’ button which completes the process. You will be notified whether the process has been complete and to await a certificate.

How much does copyrighting a song cost?

The fees for copyright registration of various works have been waived temporarily. However, when reintroduced, it will be friendly and affordable.

What is the duration of Copyright?

  • For musical or artistic work 50 years after end of the year in which the author dies

  • For sound recordings- 50 years after the end of the year in which the recording was first made available to the public

How to enforce your rights?

The Kenya Copyright Board is mandated by the Copyright Act to enforce copyright and related rights in Kenya

To report a case of infringement of Copyright, you can KECOBO offices at NHIF building, 5th floor in Nairobi or write a formal complaint addressed to the Executive Director. Remember to include all details on the infringement and give you mobile phone contact for ease of follow up. The complaint should be emailed to


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