The copyright legislation in Tanzania, the Copyright and Neighboring Relations Act 1999, together with various other Acts, have been amended by a law known as the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments, No 3) Act 2019.

The amendments to copyright have resolved jurisdiction issues relating to copyright infringement claims, and enhanced protection for copyright owners by introducing tougher penalties. Here are some of the major changes: 

  • It is now clear that the ‘court’ that has jurisdiction to hear a copyright case is the court that has jurisdiction to hear cases dealing with the monetary amount in issue, in other words the amount of damages sought 
  • There is now a right to benefit from a resale of copyright – previously a copyright owner’s rights ceased on assignment
  • There is an enhancement of the copyright holder’s rights – the situation now is that any person who intends to use any right that is protected by copyright law will be obliged to seek authorisation from the copyright holder (although this was implicit in the law before it was amended, the authorities seemingly felt that it needed to be made absolutely clear)
  • When it comes to infringement, there is provision for offences with significant fines or an award of 30% of the value of the pirated material (whichever is the higher), and prison terms from six months to three years. With subsequent offences the percentage for the award goes up to 50%, and the prison terms are 12 months to five years.
  • The functions of Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA) are widened to include maintaining a register of contracts.

Interestingly, these legislative changes seem to have been partially motivated by a desire to improve government revenue, with the arts and entertainment industry in Tanzania having grown by 13.7% last year.

Legislation known as the Films and Stage Plays Act has been amended to provide that any foreign company seeking to use Tanzania for filming purposes must submit footage to the authorities for approval, acknowledge the physical locations used, and submit the film to the authorities for approval and a clearance certificate. The filmmaker will be required to grant rights to the Tanzanian government to use the film content for the purposes of promoting Tanzania for any purposes including tourism. Finally the filmmaker will be required to pay a ‘prescribed benefit’ for all usage of content filmed in Tanzania – Regulations will be passed setting out exactly how this benefit will be determined.

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