Intellectual property law and copyright matters in Tanzania
In this article, we analyse how a copyright infringement may occur, the remedies available for copyright infringement and the legal penalties incurred if the Copyright Act is violated.
Copyright infringement is the use of copyrighted material without the author’s permission. In mainland Tanzania, copyright infringement is principally governed by the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act (the Copyright Act).
Copyright infringement may be a result of various circumstances all of which depend on the nature of the artistic work. For moral rights, circumstances may arise where there are actions such as distribution, mutilation, modification, and other derogatory actions over artistic works where such actions would prejudice an author’s honour and reputation. For economic rights, such circumstances include:
The Copyright Act provides remedies and penal provisions against copyright infringement in mainland Tanzania. The following are the available remedies to authors who fall victim to copyright infringement:
Authors have the option of instituting civil proceedings before courts in Tanzania upon infringement of their rights under the Copyright Act for reliefs such as injunction and payment of damages suffered. The court is defined in the Copyright Act as the court of competent jurisdiction. Therefore, the institution of proceedings in court would depend on the nature of the claim to determine which court has jurisdiction.
This remedy is subject to limitation to the extent that if the source of infringement can be modified in such a way so as to rectify the infringement then the injured party can only require that such measures be taken to that effect. Therefore, the destruction of the works is dependent on the said limitation.
Copies and equipment may be delivered to the injured party if he or she requires so, for an equitable price which does not exceed the production cost.
For a first offence, a person who violates the provisions of the Copyright Act shall be liable to a fine of not less than TZS 20,000,000 (approximately USD 8,662) or thirty percent (30%) of the value of the pirated material, whichever is higher, or to imprisonment for a term between six months and three years, or to both fine and imprisonment. For each subsequent offence, a person shall be liable to a fine of not less than TZS 30,000,000 (approximately USD 12,993) or fifty percent (50%) of the value of the pirated copyright material, whichever is higher, or to imprisonment for a term between twelve months and five years, or to both fine and imprisonment.
The above offences are determined on a commercial basis and the court may order compensation to the right holder in addition to the sanctions above for subsequent offences. The above offences may be compounded if a person admits in writing that they have committed the offence under the Copyright Act.
 Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, Cap 218 R.E. 2002 as amended by the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 3) Act No. 9 of 2019.