Thursday, 6 August 2015

Kenyans in court: who can collect musicians' royalties?

"Kenyan Musicians Sue Copyright Bodies Over Royalties" is the title of this piece in AllAfrica last week by Abiud Ochieng:
A dispute has emerged in the interpretation of a section of the Copyright Act dealing with collection of music royalties. Musicians Elijah Wainaina Mira, Francis Jumba and Carolyne Wanjiru Ndiba have filed a case alongside two other companies seeking an interpretation of Section 30A of the Copyright Act [The linked text doesn't have a Section 30A. Might it be 30(1)(a)?].

The two companies, Xpedia Management Ltd and Liberty Afrika Technologies Ltd, are engaged in promoting and distribution of various musical and artistic works through digital platforms. They have sued the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP), Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRSK) and Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK).

The petitioners claim that section 30A of the Copyright Act states that the defendants, who are Collective Management Organisations (CMOs), are the only persons who can collect payment on behalf of owners of copyrights of performing and producing rights.

"The provision to that extent takes away rights of the petitioner and other copyright holders to collect payments from users of their works," explained lawyer Kiingati Ndirangu representing the petitioners.

The CMOs collect and retain remuneration on behalf of copyright holders but do not remit cash of non-members. The lawyer said a copyright holder, who is not a member of any of the CMOs risks losing revenue collected on their behalf. He further said Section 30A (1) creates confusion on who will collect and distribute revenue collected by the CMOs that is supposed to be shared equally between a producer and performer.

KAMP, PRISK and MCSK have relied on Section 30A to demand and collect royalties from users when the provision only allows them to collect a single equitable remedy. He added that the copyrights board has also failed to give any directions with regard to collection of the remuneration and distribution of the payments.

"The result of lack of a fair and reasonable administrative action has resulted in confusion, overpayments by users and lack of clear mode of sharing and distribution," explained lawyer Ndirangu.

The case will be heard Friday [that's the end of this week].
If you know anything about this case and/or its outcome, do let us know!

Thanks to Chris Torrero for spotting this item for us.

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