Kenyan tea picker awarded $14,000 for copyright infringement

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Picture showing a tea field and the harvest(Reuters)

The High Court in Kenya has ordered the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) to pay $14,000 to a woman for using her photo in marketing materials without her consent.

The High Court ruled that KTDA used Ann Njoki Kumena’s image on its marketing brochures without her consent thus infringing on her rights. The picture was published on a brochure entitled ‘Kenya Teas: Our field: Our Process’ and was captioned ‘Plucking Green Leaf.

Speaking during the ruling, Justice Lucy Gitari said that Kumena has a right to control how her image is used and that KTDA should have obtained her consent for use of the picture.

The judge noted that Kumena was able to prove that she did not receive any compensation for the use of the picture and that she had not consented to the picture being taken.

KTDA on the other hand argued that Kumena was not entitled to any royalties in the photo as she did not have the copyright of the picture. The company maintained that she had accepted to be photographed and had voluntarily posed for the picture. It insisted that she had not suffered any loss/damage nor had her fundamental rights been infringed upon as alleged.

Justice Lucy Gitari had asked KTDA to file witness statements and lists of documents to show consent but it did not present any material.

KTDA was also ordered to pay Kumena the cost she incurred prosecuting the case.