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New court ruling on ‘Skiza Tunes’ throws Safaricom, artistes off balance

Communication firm Safaricom has stated that it will comply with the latest court ruling on distribution of royalties to artistes.

The ruling that was issued by Justice Said Chitembwe nullified a section of the law that restricted artistes to receiving their royalties only through Collective Management Organisations (CMOs).

“Among the various findings made by the Malindi High Court is the declaration that Section 30A (of the Copyright Act) is unconstitutional as it limits the manner in which artist royalties are paid. This Section enabled Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) such as Music Copyright Society of Kenya, Kenya Association of Music Producers and the Performance Rights Organisation of Kenya (PRSK) to collect royalties on behalf of artists,” stated Safaricom boss Bob Collymore in a statement.

The petition had been filed by two artistes, Mercy Munee Kingoo and Lydia Nyiva Kingai, who had stated that they were not members of any CMO and had no plan of joining one.

“The ruling also directs that Safaricom pay all royalties from Skiza – our music download platform – directly to Content Service Providers (CSPs). The new directive contradicts an earlier judgment delivered by the Nairobi High Court on 11th May, 2016 under Petition Number 317 of 2015,” stated the communication firm.

Safaricom has distributed payments amounting to Sh325million through the CMOs after an agreement was reached in July last year.

“We will abide by the Malindi High Court directive, as it is the latest High Court position on this matter. However we ask that all the parties involved in this dispute – the artists, CMOs and CSPs – to seek clarity on the matter and settle on a payment structure amicable to all,” stated Mr Collymore.