Over the last few months musicians have complained about their financial conditions and cited the failure by Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) to transparently account for royalties collected. Artists such as Roughtone and Elani recorded social media messages and circulated the same complaining of injustices in MCSK. Elani on the other hand complained that music users such as broadcasters and public transporters (buses, taxis etc.) were paying MCSK but there was no transparency on the part of MCSK to account for this money or even distribute it to musicians.

Now, a section of Kenyan musicians have petitioned Kenya Corporate Board (KECOBO) to have MCSK and the other Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) show cause why they should not be deregistered for functioning in a manner not satisfactory to the members and contrary to the law. The petition has been made to KECOBO, through the artist lawyers, Otieno & Amisi Advocates

The petition filed by Intellectual Property Owners Association and Music Publishers Association of Kenya cites various anomalies on the part of MCSK and the failure by KECOBO to address the same. Evidence seen shows that Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) who are the other CMOs, have previously written a protest letter against MCSK to KECOBO.

One of the main bones of contention is MCSK’s continued frustration in implementing a joint licensing, collection and distribution of royalties. In the letter dated 14th June 2016 and addressed to KECOBO, KAMP & PRISK have detailed how for close to 10years MCSK has systematically failed to work with other CMOs for the ease of royalty collection. This has lead music users failing to pay for use of music and citing the lack of transparency between CMOs.

Details have emerged of MCSK failing to remit monies owed to KAMP & PRISK which is royalties for musicians. From the letter seen, MCSK owed KAMP KES32million and has been repaying at KES300,000 per month and is yet to complete the payment.

The Music Publishers body also complained that MCSK altered the rules of the society during the AGM to stop publishers from contesting any position within the society, which the publisher body argues is a discrimination since it denies their right to take part in the activities of the society.

The petitioners have asked that any CMO found to not meet the requirements as per the law be deregistered and their class of rights be assigned to other existing compliant CMOs or KECOBO assists in the establishment of a new CMO as per the law.

A look at their recent MCSK annual report and audited financial statement indicates that society collected KES360,925,794.00 and distributed to musicians only 126,950,965.00 being 35% of the amounts collected and meaning that MCSK retained 65% for their use. The generally accepted practice is that CMOs such as MCSK should only spend 30% on administration fee.

We have confirmed from the CEO of KECOBO Mr. Edward Sigei that the petition has indeed been received and that KECOBO will advise the petitioners on the way forward.

SOURCE: Intellectual Property Owners Association

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