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Ezekiel Mutua now goes after bars, restaurants, matatus for music licenses

Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) has said it will launch a crackdown on businesses and Public Service Vehicles (PSV) which are yet procure music licenses.

Speaking during a press briefing on Wednesday MCSK boss Ezekiel Mutua said that the compliance levels in the country have been below 10 per cent, which has greatly affected royalty collection.

According to Dr Mutua the music industry is one of the most lucrative businesses with the potential of creating jobs and wealth for artistes. This, he says, can only be achieved with proper enforcement of compliance with the Copyright Act.

“We are pleased to report that following a series of meetings and discussions with the Inspector General of police, the three CMO’s MCSK, KAMP, PRISK have been granted the authority to use police during copyright enforcement across the country. To this effect police commandants across the country have been directed to give support to our licensing officers during the copyright enforcement exercise,” Dr Mutua said.

“It will be recalled that since 2019, major users of music in businesses and public places such as PSV’s, Tourist Service Vehicle (TSV), Commercial Vehicles, hotels, bars, restaurants, salons. Have not been complying with the provisions of the Copyright Act. Section 40 (5) of the constitution of Kenya 2010, obligates the government to support and protect the intellectual property copyright rights of its citizens,” he said.

In May, Dr Mutua reinstated the licences that had been suspended since 2020. The licences were suspended to caution various businesses that use or play music for their own promotions following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Copyright Act Section 38 that contains provisions for offense and penalties infringements, subsection (2) states that: “Any person who causes a literary or musical work, an audio-visual work or a sound recording to be performed in public at a time when copyright subsists in such work or sound recording and where such performances is an infringement of that copyright, shall be guilty of an offence unless he is able to prove that he had acted in good faith and had no reasonable grounds for supposing that copyright would or might be infringed.”

In such a scenario, Subsection (7) will take precedence stating,

“Any person guilty of an offence under subsection (2) shall be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding four years or to both.