Entertainment and Lifestyle

Musicians demand that MCSK be licensed to collect their royalties

Stakeholders in the performing arts industry have fronted Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) as a  favourite contender for licensing as a Collective Management Organization (CMO) following a heated consultation forum in Nairobi.

The forum organized by the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) aimed at getting public participation over the licensing of royalty collecting societies for the year 2019. However, there was a heated debate between the music stakeholders and the Kenya Copyright Board for failing to renew MCSK’s operating license in 2016 as Mr. Edward Sigei CEO of taking the heat.

“All the CMOs represented here today have applied for licenses and royalty collection for the coming year. As much as we shall consider your pleas to reinstate your favourite CMO, they must conform to provided rules and regulations and meet the recommended thresholds.”  Mr. Sigei said.

He added that the board is obligated to issue licenses in accordance with the law and regulatory provisions thus it was wrong for MCSK members to imagine that the organization had been denied a license for the last two years as a way of settling scores.

Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) had in the year 2016 been denied the license to collect royalties on behalf of Kenyan artistes after allegedly failing to furnish the regulator (KECOBO) with a list of its members, it’s audited financial statements for 2016 and amounts received in royalties.

However, a new entity known as Music Publishers Association of Kenya Ltd (MPAKE) was given the green light by KECOBO to collect royalties on behalf of the artistes. However, a court judgment on July 13, 2018 by Justices R.N Sitati, D.S. Majanja and T.W. Cherere declared the license to MPAKE null and void.

The artistes who graced the public participation forum argued that MPAKE had been imposed on them, and even so, they had not received royalties collected on their behalf by the newly licensed body.

“We will not sit back and let KECOBO make uninformed decisions while we suffer the consequences of their decisions. Yes there may have been challenges at MCSK but those would have been solved and individuals found culpable dealt with but it is unfair to punish fifteen thousand artistes for one person’s mistakes,’ noted Saitoti, a recording artiste and a producer who spoke at the forum.

In MCSK’s defense, Nairobi Regional Manager Peter Iyenze in his presentation before the board and the stakeholders lamented that the organization had not been given a fair hearing by KECOBO. He added that with over 13, 900 members, MCSK had established the right systems well capable of sufficiently collecting and distributing of royalties on behalf of artistes.

‘Having been in existence for over thirty years and with a proven countrywide reach, we have over the years demonstrated due diligence and are committed to serving our members. It is our plea that the Kenya Copyright Board finds MCSK fit to continue as the Kenyan artiste’s CMO,’ said Mr. Iyenze.

The vetting process is still ongoing and public participation is still open until the 14th of this month before the board reviews all applications and presentations. The board is scheduled to sit on 20th September 2018 to finalize on the vetting process that will be followed by the awarding of licenses to CMOs that meet the requirements of the regulator.

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