Kenya Publishers and Copyright Board Complain of Textbook Piracy

In News by Dennis Abrams

From Standard Digital: ‘Piracy discourages authors who want to make a contribution to society,’ says Kenya Publishers Association chief David Waweru.

Image – iStockphoto: Kylie Ellway

By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2

‘Knowledge Lost to the Rest of Us’

At Kenya’s Standard Digital, Protus Onyango recently has reported on what the Kenya Publishers Association says is a textbook piracy problem costing publishers millions of shillings in lost revenue. (One million Kenyan shillings comes to about US$9,660.)

Onyango describes a raid conducted under the auspices of the association and the Kenya Copyright Board, resulting in allegations that “rogue head teachers were colluding with hawkers to rob textbooks from public schools.”

Onyango in his article depicts two routes used by this kind of operation. In one, he writes, “brokers…rope in school head teachers, who without following laid-down procurement laws, give them tenders to supply books. [The brokers] then link up with book pirates who operate backstreet printing firms which quickly print the books and directly-supply them to schools.”

In a second approach, Onyango writes that textbook “pirates, brokers, teachers and hawkers all work together to stage school break-ins, steal books to sell on the streets to unsuspecting buyers.”

Edward Sigei, chief legal counsel for the copyright board is quoted, saying, “In Ngong, we netted 30 copies of textbooks but the culprit took us to an accomplice at Nyamakima where we got 10,342 copies of books with a market value of 5.5 million Kenyan shillings (US$53,502).”

One problem, Sigei alleges to the Standard Digital, is that Kenya Revenue Authority customs officials don’t focus enough of their attention on “identifying crooks who print local titles abroad and ship them back in containers.”

Kenya Publishers Association chair David Waweru is also quoted by Onyango, saying, “Piracy discourages authors who want to make [a] contribution to society through writing books, their knowledge is lost to the rest of us.”

Protus Onyango’s full article is at the Standard Digital here.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.