Kenyan artistes reject licensing of MCSK, say KECOBO CEO erred in move as body has no board
Stakeholders in the creatives industry drawn mainly from the music industry have rejected a move by Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) to license MCSK, PRISK and KAMP to jointly collect royalties on their behalf. Addressing a press conference in Nairobi today, the irate artistes noted that the KECOBO board as currently constituted has no quorum to execute the mandate of issuing licenses to CMO’s.
The artistes have also questioned why KECOBO had asked for a public participation on 24th Jan 2019 in a letter dated 14th Jan 2019 then on Sunday 20th Jan 2019 issued licenses to KAMP PRISK and MCSK before the public participation.
The artistes now want the licenses revoked as they say the CMOs are collecting billions illegally without accounting for the same.
The artistes have further pointed accusing fingers at officials of the CMOs, specifically MCSK whom they claim may have bribed their way to getting licensed. In particular, the artistes questioned how KECOBO CEO Edward Sigei attained sole ‘powers’ to issue licenses as per a KECOBO letter dated Sunday 20th Jan 2019.
‘We musicians would like to strongly reject the actions of one Mr Edward Sigei the CEO of KECOBO’s decision to award MCSK, KAMP & PRISK a joint license to collect royalties from users on our behalf,’
read the statement issued at the presser in part.
The artistes claim that they sought answers from Sports, Arts and Culture Cabinet Secretary Rashid Mohammed Echesa on how the KECOBO CEO managed to unconstitutionally issue the license letter on a Sunday yet the complainants were awaiting the CS’s guidance.
‘The CS informed us that KECOBO CEO went against his directive not to issue any communication on licenses or the licenses before outstanding conditions that denied MCSK a license in 2017 were resolved and all stakeholders are on one page with a lasting solution to the problems that have existed in the whole business of royalty collection,’
the artistes noted.
They added that Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) was de registered in 2017 because they collected money and did not pay artists. In 2017 and 2018 they continued to collect illegally and still did not pay artists. Further, they claim a court of law found MCSK guilty and ordered KECOBO to take action.
‘Instead of KECOBO taking action, they have gone ahead to license the same organization which has not paid any artiste in years,’
the statement continued.
Immediately after the KECOBO board deferred the decision to issue a license, the board term ended on 31st October 2018. Since October 2018, KECOBO has not had a new board thus it is unable to issue licenses.
‘It would appear that Mr. Sigei is acting on his own since KECOBO has no board members. This is against the law. Also, The board of KECOBO made a decision to defer the issuing of a license for authors, composers and publishers in what now appears to be a calculated move to benefit some directors. Mr. Katana and David Mureithi who were part of the KECOBO board that deferred the decision and are now directors of MCSK. In our view this is a conflict of interest and abuse of office,’
the artistes claimed.
‘We are wondering what the emergency is to issue these licenses to collect billions, and why the issuance came from a state officer and delivered on a Sunday, yet we have been seeking to solve the corruption and theft of Musicians money for years,’
the statement concluded.
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