Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) orders MCSK to cease operations

 The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) has ordered the country’s collective management organisations (CMOs) to cease operations pending a court case barring the renewal of their licences.

The regulator said the new licences were intended to go into effect on 9 May 2024, but due to a petition filed at the High Court of Kenya in Nairobi on 28 March, the process had been suspended until the matter is heard in court.

“The High Court issued orders restraining KECOBO from issuing operating licences to the CMOs pending the hearing and determination of the petition,” KECOBO chairman Joshua Kutuny said. “On 30 April, the court extended those orders to 30 May and, consequently, the CMOs have been informed to cease operations until their licences are renewed or new licences issued once the High Court issues its decision.”

The directive has been greeted with dismay by CMO officials, one of whom said the government was “once again interfering in the smooth running of their organisations to the detriment of the artists.”

The CMO official, who did not wish to be named, said the move was akin to asking the public to use the works of the private rightsholders for free until licences were issued. The official added that the CMOs would take a big hit given that collections were made on a month-to-month basis, with some of the funds going into administrative costs like running an office.

“This is very disruptive and shows that the government does not really care about the welfare of the artists,” the official said. “Is KECOBO going to compensate for the missed collection? This is indicative of the endemic incompetency at the agency. It also shows a complete lack of appreciation for the workings of the music industry.”

On 8 November 2023, KECOBO issued six-month provisional licences to Kenya’s three music CMOs, namely the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK).

After the six months came to an end, KECOBO’s board of directors reviewed the performances of the three CMOs and decided to issue an open call for new licence applications on 10 April.

As of 24 April, the board had received applications from five organisations, namely the MCSK, KAMP, Collective Management Services Ltd, the Performing and Audiovisual Rights Society of Kenya (formerly PRISK) and the Filmmaker Rights Achievers of Kenya.

Meanwhile, KECOBO says it has received written submissions in response to its advertisement on the sustainability of the five CMOs that applied for licensing.

“The KECOBO secretariat is preparing a report based on the applications and written submissions of stakeholders in preparation for a physical public participation forum to be held in Nairobi later this month. This is therefore a request for stakeholders and artists to be patient until the process is concluded,” Kutuny said.

SOURCE: Music In Africa