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Music association urges parliament to amend copyright law

The Music Associations Alliance of Kenya (MAAK) has submitted a petition to Parliament calling for a comprehensive review and amendment of the Copyright Act to address critical issues that are negatively affecting artist royalties.

One of the key issues raised in the petition is the licensing of Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) by the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) despite their underperformance, contrary to the provisions of Section 49(9) of the Copyright Act.

“This section clearly states that a CMO may be deregistered if it fails to function adequately, deviates from its Memorandum and Articles of Association, amends its rules to an extent that they are not in conformity with the Act or fails to comply with any provision of the Act. This continued licensing of underperforming CMOs is not only contrary to the law but also violates our constitutional rights,” said Justus Ngemu, chairperson of MAAK, in a statement.

Also read: Music Copyright Society of Kenya ends 2-year dispute with Kenya Copyright Board

Another critical concern highlighted by MAAK is Section 46(5) of the Copyright Act, which restricts the freedom of association of its members.

MAAK members include the Nairobi Musicians Association, Coast Kenya Musician Association, Central Kenya Musicians, Nyanza Kenya, Rift Valley Kenya, Western Kenya and Eastern Musician Associations.

“This provision (Section 46(5)) forces artists to belong to organisations that do not serve their common interests and denies them the right to exercise their freedom of association. Furthermore, it is disheartening to note that the Copyright Act has not been reviewed since the amalgamation of the Constitution of Kenya in 2010 and has failed to adapt to the changing needs of our creative community”. Ngemu added.

In addition, MAAK is lobbying for legislation that requires CMOs to distribute at least 70% of the funds they collect.

Currently, most CMOs use a significant portion of the collected revenue for administrative expenses, leaving artists and creators with a meagre compensation for their hard work and creativity.

Over the past decade, the Kenya Copyright Board has reported a consistent trend of CMOs using a significant portion of the funds for administration, thus depriving artists of their rightful earnings.

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