Music copyright body deregistered over ‘misuse of funds’

Saturday May 14 2011

By JOHN MUCHIRI [email protected]

The Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), the body that collects royalties for music composers, authors and publishers in Kenya has been deregistered.

According to Kenya Gazette Notice number 5093 of May 6, 2011, signed by executive director Marisella Ouma and chairman Henry Chakava of the Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo), the society was deregistered on April 1, 2011.

Sources close to Kecobo said the society had been under investigations after artistes lodged complaints of misappropriation of funds.

Many musicians have welcomed the deregistration, saying they have a better opportunity to streamline the society and make it effective.

Gospel musician Emmy Kosgei said: “We need to put more artistes on the board to safeguard our interests and we have the opportunity now.

“I was initially a member but I deregistered myself after I realised that I was wasting my time chasing MCSK for royalties that I would never get.”

Suzanna Owiyo said members need to sit down and look for a solution. “I have not got much from MCSK since I registered and it’s unfair for many artistes.

“From now on, all members need to be involved in taking the next step, not just the board,” said the singer who is also launching her new album, Roots, on Wednesday in Nairobi (see separate story in Lifestyle).

Robert Manyasa aka Roba of the group Kleptomaniax, who was among the first musicians to blow the whistle over alleged mismanagement of funds at MCSK earlier this year, said all the board members have to be removed and fresh elections held.

“No more under the table dealings. Transparency is all we are asking for,” Roba said.

MCSK chief executive Maurice Okoth confirmed to the Sunday Nation that the society had been deregistered. He said they were accused of spending too much money collecting royalties.

“After checking our accounts, they said that we spend half of what we collect on management.

“However, I can justify this because the initial direct cost of collecting royalties is 20 per cent, while the 30 per cent is taken by administrative expenditure like fuel costs, hiring personnel to collect, offices and so on,” he said.

Last year, MCSK posted an accounts report on their web site indicating that they had collected Sh185,555,521 compared to Sh118,125,764 recorded the previous year.

Earlier in the week, MCSK was reported to have merged with the Performance Rights Society of Kenya (PRSK) and Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP). The merger is meant to form one collecting body for royalties, instead of three.