Intellectual Property Rights in Digital Libraries: Status, Interventions, Challenges, and Opportunities for Academic Libraries in Kenya
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The management of intellectual property rights in digital contexts is increasingly becoming complex. In spite of its benefits, digitisationincreases the vulnerability of digital works, thereby exposing them to violation. This paper discusses the intellectual property rights regime in Kenya; examines intellectual property rights issues academic librarians encounter in the digital information universe; examines how librarians currently safeguard intellectual property rights; and analyses the challenges that hamper the librarians’ efforts to manage intellectual property rights effectively in digital contexts. Data for this paper was collected using the Delphi approach in which a group of 18 purposively-selected academic librarians participated by responding to an online questionnaire. The authors, acting as facilitators, analysed the responses and identified areas for further discussion or clarification, leading to another round of responses. Three rounds were held before consensus was reached. Additional data was obtained through documentary analysis. The findings of the study indicate that there are both local and international legal frameworks for handling intellectual property rights in Kenya. In spite of these, intellectual property violations in the form of plagiarism, piracy, freebooting, and parody are experienced in digital academic library contexts in Kenya. Librarians are making efforts to safeguard intellectual property rights through plagiarism testing; sensitisation of library users on intellectual property rights through comprehensive information literacy programmes; enforcement of citation and referencing styles; and tracking the use of protected information materials. However, these efforts are hampered by versatile technologies making intellectual property infringement easy, lack of landmark convictions in Kenya, inadequate intellectual property rights policies, presence of orphaned works, limitations of anti-plagiarism checkers, as well as lack of coordination and standardisation in violation of intellectual property rights. This is an original study which may contribute to the on-going discourse on how best to manage intellectual property rights while enhancing the access of digital content in libraries.
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