Kenya Copyright Board in tough spot over royalties

Two agencies have been blocked from collecting royalties for artistes following applications by two renowned musicians.

Pioneer benga artiste Laban Juma Toto and Mr David Amunga, the “Someni Vijana” classic maker, filed two separate suits at the High Court in Kakamega against the Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo) and the Attorney-General.

The Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) and the Music Publishers Association of Kenya (Mpake) are listed as interested parties.
Contempt of court

In the first case, which was filed on May 24, Justice Jesse Nyaga Njagi barred Kecobo from interfering with MCSK’s mandate of collecting royalties as well as issuing statements on the matter.

The judge also asked 15 MCSK officials to show cause why they should not be charged with contempt of court.

In the second case, Justice Ruth Sitati on May 31 blocked MCSK from collecting royalties.


She further stopped MCSK from publishing information insinuating that it was a duly licensed Collective Management Organisation (CMO) as it had advertised in a local daily on Monday.

Even though the orders in both instances are temporary, they have locked out collection of royalties in an arena of disputes that has seen push and pull scenarios in the several pending cases filed in various courts countrywide over the issue.

In the advert, MCSK chief executive Simiyu Wambati said it had the mandate to collect royalties for musical works on behalf of more than 14,450 Kenyan musicians.

“Kindly continue paying music works royalties only to MCSK,” the advert read.

In April, Mr Toto and Mr Amunga obtained orders from Justice Njagi suspending the State-owned Kecobo’s March go-ahead to Mpake to collect royalties on behalf of authors, composers and publishers till February 2018 on grounds that MCSK had failed to file returns.

The case before Justice Njagi comes up for hearing on July 25.

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