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Copyright News
By Edward Sigei
I
n the last few weeks there has been a
raging debate about the entire system
of royalty management since the music
Collecting Societies’; Kenya Association
of Music Producers (KAMP), Performers
Rights Society Kenya (PRISK) and Music
Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), dis-
tributed their royalties.
Some artists have accused the Collecting
Societies, also referred to as Collective Man-
agement Organisations (CMOs), of inefcien-
cy and failing in their mandate. Others have
accused them of corruption. Some members of
the public have even wondered if these socie-
ties should exist, questioning whether they are
legally recognised.
Some users of musical works have accused
the organisations of harassment and application
of outdated methods of collection of royalties.
Others had doubted if they paid their members
or rendered accounts.
This is, therefore, an attempt to answer some
of these questions so as to assist Kenyans un-
derstand why the societies exist and why users
of copyright works should comply by paying
the set royalties.
Whereas majority of the rights available
under copyright are managed by individual or
corporate rights holders, there are some rights
that cannot be managed individually for prac-
tical reasons. Those rights must, therefore, be
managed jointly or collectively, hence the name
Collecting Societies.
These organisations are owned and man-
aged by members who authorise them to man-
age their works in return for a share of the pay-
ment of royalties collected. To enable efcient
management of rights and offer easy access to
artists’ work, the copyright laws provide for
their establishment. Collecting Societies exist
globally, having rst been founded in late 1800s
in Europe. In those countries, royalty payment
compliance is very high and artists can enjoy
decent life on royalties alone.
In Kenya, we have Collecting Societies for
music authors (MCSK), producers (KAMP)
and performers (PRISK). Actors are also rep-
resented by PRISK while publishing or reprog-
raphy is represented by Reproduction Rights
Society of Kenya (KOPIKEN). And soon there
might be a society to represent visual arts and
producers of audio-visual works.
The Collecting Societies are private entities
registered as companies limited by guarantee.
They are licenced annually and regulated by
Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO).Their tar-
iffs are published after a fairly rigorous process
with public participation.
KECOBO, as the oversight regulatory
agency, is well-placed to address the question
of whether Collecting Societies are failing in
their mandates or are corrupt.
As far as the recent distribution is con-
cerned, the societies collected Sh118 million
and distributed Sh80 million, representing
68 per cent of the collections. As such, they
performed extremely well with the distribu-
tion nearly matching the obligatory 70 per
cent compared to 54 per cent; 24 per cent; 13
per cent for PRISK, KAMP and MCSK respec-
tively for last year.
This performance follows measures put in
place by the regulator to ensure transparency
in collection including the joint invoicing and
deposit in a common supervised account. The
measures have partially sealed some loopholes
that led to revenue leakages and cutting of un-
necessary costs.
The anticipated passage of Copyright
Amendment Bill 2017 will assist KECOBO to
further stamp its authority in the management
of Collecting Societies.
The collection methodologies are similar
to those of other collecting societies globally.
Tariffs are set and collected by among others,
taking measurement of business premises.
Users have complained about the tariffs,
stating they are quite high and proposing their
own procedures for determination of tariffs.
The suggestions have not received traction with
collecting societies as they are afraid of losing
royalty income. The impasse often leads to un-
necessary litigation.
The historically poor compliance places a
heavy burden on the few that the collecting so-
cieties can reach to make up for the rest who fall
through the net, usually by design.
Sadly, those who have not complied were
the loudest critics about the poor pay to artists.
The poor compliance represents a big threat
to artists’ rights as it puts into question the
future of these organisations. The collecting
societies must adapt to local and technologi-
cal realities. The payment of copyright dues is
clearly a new concept to many business owners
who use copyright works. It is hard for them to
understand and comply especially in a difcult
economic environment.
Technology has the potential of providing
the collecting societies with new tools and ap-
proaches to collection of royalties. The Kenya
Copyright Board has been toying with meth-
ods of collection that do not involve direct
contact with the users and the use of police in
enforcement.
These include imposing a music levy on
food and hotel establishments to be collected
in the same manner as catering levy, music levy
on alcoholic beverages, a subscription model
for media houses that pays for every song
played and a at royalty at NTSA licence desk.
Universities can collect a nominal fee for the
photocopies done in the campuses in favour
of book authors’ royalty. Any shortfall can be
made up from at rate collections.
Subject to an impact study and the setting
of appropriate fees on those platforms, this
can be implemented as soon as next year. Of
course this will depend on whether other gov-
ernment agencies and ministries, especially the
Treasury, approve the decision. If this is imple-
mented, the amount of royalties payable to art-
ists might increase while businesses would run
smoothly. This system will nally deliver for
artists an important campaign promise.
Mr Sigei is the Executive Director,
Kenya Copyright Board.
kipsigei@yahoo.com
KECOBO Executive Director Mr Edward Sigei congratulates the Chairmen of MCSK, KAMP and
PRISK after they signed a joint Communique committing to abide by conditions given by KECOBO,
collect royalties jointly and distribute at least 70 percent of royalties collected to members.
Why royalties for artists
are bound to improve in future