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I’ll see you in court! Ezekiel Mutua tells Kecobo chairman Kutuny

By Hilary Kimuyu February 22nd, 2024 3 min read

Just hours after the Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo) said that they had invited EACC and the DCI to probe the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) failure to account for Sh56 million collected as royalties in 2023, its CEO Ezekiel Mutua has fired back

Mutua nicknamed the moral cop did not mince his words while responding to the allegations brought out by Kecobo Chairman Joshua Kutuny on Wednesday.

In an Interview with Nairobi News at his office on Wednesday, he said that the wide-ranging accusations by the Kecobo board about the performance of CMOS and the criteria of distribution that would allocate artistes 70 per cent of monies collected is non-existent.

“Kecobo says we should have paid using something they are calling the 70 per cent rule. Where exactly in the Copyright Act or any other law in Kenya does it talk of the 70 per cent rule?” he wondered.

“Where have you seen it? Where it says show us the Copyright Act and show me the place where it says 70 per cent rule. Show me that one.”

Also read: Kecobo exposes list of 15 top artistes paid less royalties by MCSK

According to Mutua, the Kecobo Chairman’s saying that artists should have been paid 70 per cent is incitement and that is why they are going to court.

Kecobo released a list of artistes royalties based on the CMO regulations.
Kecobo released a list of artistes royalties based on the CMO regulations. PHOTO| NAIROBI NEWS

“This is incitement; can you imagine if someone thinks that Sh3 million was stolen from them? To make matters worse these are public officials maligning us. Kutuny, I will see you in court,” he said.

“Why would they do this to Kenyans? So I want to tell them shame on you. This money if you show me the rule that says 70 per cent of the law, then let members come for their pay. We declared how much is available we paid according to how much is available and the log sheets from broadcasters. We don’t create the log sheets. They are from the users of music. And they are the ones who have paid,” he added.

Mutua termed the move as “sideshows” saying MCSK will issue a comprehensive report on the distribution upon conclusion of the distribution exercise on March 29, 2024.

Also read: Veteran musician seeks revocation of MCSK, KAMP & PRISK licences

According to Kutuny, MCSK, Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) collectively collected Sh249,687,212.80 in royalties, but there were discrepancies in the amounts declared by each body.

“While KAMP and PRISK declared collections of Sh249 million, accounting for Sh61 million and Sh52.7 million respectively, MCSK on its part declared receipts of Sh109 million, a shortfall of Sh26 million,” said Kutuny.

“Cumulatively, MCSK declared total revenues of Sh139,295,094 comprising of Public Performance (109 million) and Mechanical income (thirty million),” he said.

“In view of the above, I directed that the matter be handed over to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for investigations. The letters to those two institutions’ CEOs have been prepared and dispatched,” Kutuny said.

On his part, Mutua said that they have never been served or summoned by EACC and once they are they will honour the summons.

“This thing about EACC and DCI, we first saw it on social media. We have never been served nor summoned and once they do we will be available,” he said.

The latest showdown comes days after Gender, Culture, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa said her ministry is working on a plan to have music copyrights and royalties paid through the government-owned e-Citizen platform.

Also read: Vicious battle: MCSK accuse Kecobo boss of stealing 100m. He responds

Her comments followed her Public Service counterpart Moses Kuria’s announcement that the government seeks to make amendments to the Copyright Act “to create a government-run Collective Management Organisation.”

“Our artists will be individually registered. They can view online how much money is collected. Siku 40 za wezi wa jasho ya artists zimeisha,” Kuria said in a post on X.

But Mutua shot down the proposal, terming it ineffective. He said the move could lead to legal battles, arguing that private rights cannot be regulated.

Mutua claimed some musicians have been misleading ministers by encouraging the government to collect copyright and royalty fees for them via the government services portal.