Musicians are now earning better returns

Thursday October 15 2015

Gospel singer Esther Wahome performs at the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) awards and Gala Night at Laico Regency Hotel, Nairobi. The MCSK collects and distributes royalties on behalf of copyright owners. PHOTO | DENNIS OKEYO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Gospel singer Esther Wahome performs at the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) awards and Gala Night at Laico Regency Hotel, Nairobi. The MCSK collects and distributes royalties on behalf of copyright owners. PHOTO | DENNIS OKEYO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Musician J.B. Maina recently sued Safaricom for including his music in its Skiza tunes without his consent and the court awarded him Sh15 million.

This was an eye-opener for many Kenyans.

Music is played in public places and broadcast by media houses.

Do the owners of copyright get any compensation for the public performance and/or broadcast of their works? Where does copyright law come in?

As the author or composer of a musical work, one gets to control how his or her work is used and disseminated.

That means that if one wishes to use the music online, sell it, broadcast it, or even perform it in public, then one must get authority from the author or owner of the work.

Due to the fact that there are many authors and composers and multiple users such as broadcasting organisations, hotels and restaurants, shopping malls, mobile phone companies, and other public places, the authors and composers and, where applicable, music publishers join collective management organisations (CMOs) that help, through licensing, the users for public performance and broadcast of their works.

In turn, CMOs collect and distribute royalties on behalf of the composers, authors, and publishers.

In Kenya, there are three licensed music industry CMOs: Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), Kenya Association for Music Producers (Kamp), and the Performers’ Rights Society of Kenya (PRiSK).

DIFFERENT RESPONSIBILITIES
The Music Copyright Society of Kenya collects and distributes royalties on behalf of copyright owners.

Each musical work has performers and producers of sound recordings.

MCSK contributes through the performance of the work and helps in the fixation of works into tangible formats so that it can be accessible.

Under the copyright law, it can have its rights administered through collective management organisations. This includes the right to equitable remuneration for broadcast and communication to the public.

Kamp collects royalties and distributes works on behalf of the producers of sound recordings while PRiSK deals with the performers.

Users have complained about multiplicity in collection of royalties and requested that there be one collective management organisation.

The three organisations deal with different rights holders and cannot be compelled to work together.

A SINGLE ENTITY
The Kenya Copyright Board has been working to get the three CMOs to collect royalties through one organisation.

So far, Kamp and PRiSK collect these jointly and the three have now agreed to have joint collection in relation to mobile phone companies.

They are working towards joint collection for the other rights.

The tariffs set by the CMOs are negotiable but based on international best practices.

The law requires that the tariffs be published in the Kenya Gazette.

Any complaints about the tariffs are taken before the Competent Authority established under the Copyright Act.

The Kenya Copyright Board licenses and supervises the collective management organisations.

This has brought order in the industry and ensured that artistes earn money.

With better compliance, the government is optimistic that musicians in Kenya will have a consistent revenue stream.