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KECOBO forced to advertise for fresh CMO licenses amidst court drama

Just a week after the High Court barred Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) from extending operational licenses of Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK), the regulator has now placed an open invitation from companies that possess the appropriate competence to functions as a Collective Management Organizations (CMO), to send in applications.

Justice Lawrence Mugambi last week issued orders on an application filed by two petitioners David Mabonga Barasa and Maxwell Barasa, barring KECOBO from extending the three CMOs tasked with collecting royalties on behalf of artistes, certificate of registration, for a further six months.

With the current licenses set to expire on May 8, 2024, KECOBO had set to hold a meeting on April 3, to review fresh applications by KAMP, MCSK, and PRISK with an intent to extend the licenses for another six months.

However, that didn’t happen as two petitioners David Mabonga Barasa and Maxwell Barasa filed a motion at the High Court under a certificate of urgency, seeking to bar KECOBO from extending the licenses.

They accused KECOBO of soliciting applications from the three CMOs that have been ridden with never-ending scandals of misappropriation and embezzlement of artistes royalties for years now to the tune of millions, instead of involving public participation by advertising them as required by law.

“I have read the Chamber summons application, the notice of motion application all dated 25/3/2024 as well as the supporting affidavit of David Mabonga Barasa of even date and now make orders as follows: 1. The Application is certified urgent and shall be heard on a priority basis.
2 The applicant has demonstrated through his sworn affidavit that there is an urgent need for issuance of an exparte interim order prohibiting the first respondent (KECOBO) from issuing Certificates of

Registration to the Interested Parties as Collective Management Societies pending the hearing and determination of this application interpartes. The Order is hereby granted to last until the next mention date unless extended by an order of this Court,” read part of Justice Mugambi’s orders.

According to the two petitioners, KECOBO had acted in bad faith which amounted to circumventing the law on good governance.

With the case set to receive fresh direction from the court on April 25, 2024, when it comes up for hearing again, today the regulator moved to place an advertisement in MyGov newspaper inviting fresh applications.

“Kenya Copyright Board hereby invites applications from companies that possess the appropriate competence to execute the tasks of Collective Management Organizations. The Application should reach the Executive Director no later than 24th April before 5.00 pm. Interested applicants should provide information demonstrating that they have the required qualifications as per sections 46(2) & 4 of the Copyright Act, 2001 and Regulations 3(1), 5(1&3) of the Copyright (Collective Management) Regulations 2020,” read the advert.