Musicians stop agencies from collecting royalties

Two renowned musicians have successfully blocked agencies from collecting royalties from artistes.

In two separate suits filed at the High Court in Kakamega, Pioneer Benga artiste Laban Juma Toto and David Amunga famously remembered for his song ‘someni Vijana’, have sued the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) and the Attorney General.

Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) as well as the Music Publishers Association of Kenya (MPAKE) are listed as interested parties in the case involving a similar dispute.

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 as to why they had acted in contempt of court.

While in the second case, Lady Justice Ruth Sitati on May 31 issued orders blocking MCSK from effecting its job of collecting royalties.

The judge further stopped MCSK from publishing any information insinuating that it is a duly licensed Collective Management Organisation (CMO).

Even though the recent orders issued in both instances are to serve on a temporary basis, it has consequently locked out collection of royalties in a disputes that has seen push and pull scenario in the several pending cases filed in various courts countrywide over the same issue.

On Monday, MCSK had advertised in a local daily that it is the only body licensed and duly recognised as a CMO with the mandate to collect musical work royalties on behalf of over 14, 450 Kenyan musicians.

“Kindly continue paying music works royalties only to MCSK,” said Chief executive Simiyu Wambati.

According to MCSK’s public notice and caution, it advised artistes to demand proof of CMO from any institution that purports to collect royalties from copyright owners.

In April, Mr Toto and Mr Amunga also obtained orders from Justice Njagi suspending state owned KECOBO from denying MCSK the chance to collect royalties.

KECOBO had in March given a go ahead to MPAKE to collect royalties on behalf of authors, composers and publishers till February 2018 on grounds that MCSK had failed to attach their last audited financial statements.

The said statements were supposed to include information on a comprehensive report of its activities for the whole year, list of its members, amounts of royalties collected and amounts paid as royalties to each member.

The said document should also show how money was spent in administrative costs and contacts of its current officials as well as auditors.

The case before Justice Njagi will be coming up on May 25 for a further hearing.

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