Ezekiel Mutua targets matatus, salons, banks in new reform at MCSK

Following outcry from Kenyan musical artists over Sh1,215 royalties received from the government last week, new Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) CEO Dr Ezekiel Mutua has reinstated music licenses for matatu operators.

Dr Ezekiel Mutua, CEO of the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK)

The directive will put matatu (public service vehicles) operators and concert promoters at risk of a Sh500,000 fine if found conducting their business using music and without the license.

Dr Mutua has sited the reform as a way of increasing the amount artistes in Kenya earn from the use of their copyrighted musicla releases.

In a Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) and Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) members event held in Machakos on Friday, Mutua announced the reintroduction of the licenses which will bar establishments from unauthorised use of local music publicly.

“Following the pandemic that crippled businesses not only here in Kenya but globally, we are now laying strategies to get back on our feet. Part of those strategies is engagement with our clients.

"The work of Collective Management Organizations (MSCK, PRISK and KAMP), is not to kill or fight businesses. Our work principally is to collect and distribute royalties for our members. As we rise from the pandemic music plays a critical role both as a career and an avenue to create wealth and jobs,” Dr Mutua said.

During the Corona Virus outbreak in 2020, the licenses had been suspended, given that most public establishments had been ordered closed as a containment measure.

Dr Mutua made clear that failure to pay for the licenses amounts to the exploitation of artists who have worked hard to produce content but earn little in royalties.

He cautioned that persons or establishments who will not adhere to the collection rules, as has been the case with some in the past, will be taken to court and charged with infringement of Section 38 of the Kenya Copyrights Act, 2021.

In reference to the said Copyright Section 38, subsection (2) states that: “Any person who causes a literary or musical work, an audio-visual work or a sound recording to be performed in public at a time when copyright subsists in such work or sound recording and where such performances is an infringement of that copyright shall be guilty of an offence unless he is able to prove that he had acted in good faith and had no reasonable grounds for supposing that copyright would or might be infringed."

The new rule will also affect bars, restaurants, hotels, salons, exhibitions, cyber cafes, and banks that use music without having a license.

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