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Blow as artistes lose Skiza Tunes case

Kenyan artistes have lost their bid to have a section of the law that touches on their right to equitable pay declared as unconstitutional.

According to the artistes, Section 30A of the Copyright Act violates their right to intellectual property.

High Court judge Mumbi Ngugi has, however, ruled that that law does not infringe on any of their rights as claimed.

She said the law does not require any artiste to be a member of a Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) such as the Kenya Association of Music Producers and the Performers Rights Society of Kenya, which collect royalties for use of copyrighted works so as to be paid.

“Section 30A of the Copyright Act does not violate the intellectual property rights of artistes, its only requirement is that there should be CMOs, which collect royalties for use of copyrighted works and distribute such royalties to the copyright holders; there is  violation demonstrated,” the judge said.

Lady Justice Ngugi, however, said that the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) has the duty to ensure that CMOs account to all artistes whose royalties they collect and remit to the rights holders.

COLLECTION OF ROYALTIES

Two companies engaged in the business of promotion and distribution of various musical and artistic works through digital platforms-Xpedia limited and Liberty Africa Technologies Ltd with three artistes had moved to court seeking a determination of whether the said law violates their right.

“It is not the mandate of this Court, but of KECOBO, to inquire into the manner in which the licensed CMOs are carrying out their functions, should they be acting outside their mandate, then artistes should lodge their concerns with the former which has the jurisdiction and duty to license as well as supervise the latter under the Act,” Lady Justice Ngugi said.

In a separate case challenging unlawful collection of royalties from musician’s works on the Skiza platform, the judge, ordered the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) to render a full account of records that show monies collected from Safaricom on behalf artistes.

The judge further said that CMOs and MCSK have to be transparent with its members with regards to royalties collected from Safaricom, on behalf of artistes within 45 days.

She told the two bodies to account for any monies collected on behalf of its members as well as non-members and its agreement with Safaricom.

Four artistes had sued MCSK in the second case while Safaricom was listed as an interested party in both suits.