Politicians to pay artists for music used in rallies – Ezekiel Mutua

The copyright war is heightening days after Sauti Sol called out Azimio for using their song 'Extravaganza' in a rally.

Dr Ezekiel Mutua during a recent interview

In an interview with KTN News, Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) Chief Executive Officer Ezekiel Mutua cited politicians’ use of artists' works without any remuneration as unfair and unethical.

The former KFCB boss said that he has written to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) asking the commission to ensure creatives and artists are duly paid by politicians.

In what has been a norm, politicians have been playing songs in their political campaigns and goings a step further by using slogans by artists yet they are not compensated according to MCSK boss.

Mutua is requesting the electoral Commission, IEBC to bar any politician from vying for a seat in the event they fail the integrity test by not paying an artist for using their music.

Mutua faulted the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) regarding the Azimio La Umoja and Sauti Sol issue, he clarified the matter by explaining that Azimio had paid the money MCSK as required before they used Sauti Sol's music.

He further said that the MCSK has the musicians interests at heart and following Sauti Sol’s ordeal it has issued invoices to 47 presidential candidates.

“There is a confusion we are trying to diffuse and ensure we reach an understanding because issues of copyright are not well understood. We issued a license to a presidential candidate (Raila Odinga). We involved all 47 of them and this one called us and paid for the license,

"We are actually doing a campaign to get the rest of them to pay and we are hoping they do because we get royalties which we then pay to these musicians,” he said.

He added: “Two weeks after we received payment from the candidate, controversy arose about the adaptation and synchronization of a video by Azimio. Bien of Sauti Sol has a right to go to court but the client also needs to know what our license covers.”

Still on the matter, Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) explained that although Azimio la Umoja had obtained a Public Performance License (PPL) which allows it to play both local and international music at its rallies.

It however failed to obtain a synchronisation license which can only be issued by the composer and publisher of the works. It was thus justified for the boy band, Sauti Sol to cry foul on their infringed rights by the coalition playing their song.

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