A judge has reinstated Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) mandate to collect royalties on behalf of more than 5,000 local musicians whose earnings were under threat following the revocation society’s licence by the Kenya Copyright Board.
The revocation of the MCSK licence on April 1 and its de-registering though a Kenya Gazette notice on May 6 May by the regulator meant that the society could not collect the fees, estimated at Sh100,000 a month for the highest-paid musician, over alleged financial improprieties.
The High Court has now allowed MCSK to continue collecting the fees from matatus, entertainment spots, concert promoters, taxis, value added service providers (ring tones) and cyber cafés until other further orders from the court. Two weeks ago, local musicians instructed MSCK to seek a judicial review over the of deregistration.
Issuing the court order suspending the Kenya Gazette notice and revocation of the licence Lady Justice Jeane Gacheche said the matter will be heard on July 27. The vice chairman of MCSK, Michael Maganzo said the court action was prompted by challenges in settling the matter out of court. “The right of intellectual property is enshrined in the Constitution. One has a right to enjoy a royalty from their works,” said Mr Maganzo.
The Kenya Copyright Board executive director, Ms Marsella Ouma, said she could not comment on the matter now that it has gone to court. “Its now a court’s matter and I can’t comment on it,” said Ms Ouma. In an earlier interview, Ms Ouma said MCSK was deregistered because it was not remitting the money to musicians. The regulator also accused the society of spending most of the revenues on administration.
For instance MCSK’s expenses stood at Sh137 million in the year to June 2010 against revenues of Sh185 million, leaving it with a surplus of Sh48 million or 25 per cent of its collections that is channelled to musicians.
MCSK said most of its operations costs go to collecting money from matatus, saloons and bars which also pay 50 per cent of the royalties. The number of musicians represented by the society increased from 400 in 2007 to 5,260 at the moment.