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Parliament passes Raila-backed Copyright Amendment Bill

The Bill had been challenged by the Partners Against Piracy lobby

A general view taken on March 26, 2015 in Nairobi shows the Kenyan parliament, as President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses two Houses the Senate and the National Assembly. President Kenyatta's speech comes against the backdrop of rising corruption and insecurity in the country. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP via Getty Images)

The National Assembly has passed the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in a sitting on Thursday, February 24, 2022.

The bill which underwent a number of amendments gives copyright holders and musicians more power and control of their works.

According to the Bill, copyright holders and musicians will be entitled to not less than 52% of the revenue generated from the sale of their music through ringback tones.

What I am attempting to do is give enough lee-way for the artists as they go to negotiate and to have enough maneuvering space,” Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie said.

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Homabay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga who sponsored the bill said that telecommunication companies are also allowed to offer musicians better rates incase business costs reduce.

The other thing that encouraged me is when Safaricom came to us and said for example that if the technology price remained lower, the artiste is not tied to 52% the artiste can add to 55 or 60%,” she told the house.

Not putting a static figure is better than putting a moving figure because scale means more margins,” Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro added.

As it stands, only 16% of net income generated by the Skiza music platform goes to artists, 25% is paid to Kenya Revenue Authority, and 51% is kept by Safaricom.

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MPs also approved a new amendment that allows artists and copyright holders to collect their share of revenue directly.

Currently, the money is paid to collection management organisations which then disperse the cash to artists.

An artiste said they had not received payments, for an estimated eight months, but now we have specified the percentage which Safaricom say it, okay, to ensure that the money gets to them because of time value for money,” Acting Finance and National Committee Chairman Mark Nyamita said.

The person we are trying to protect here is the artist because there is a lot of money politics within the CMOs that if asked, the artiste would gladly collect their money directly from the platform owner in order to reduce the broken telephone that is between the tripartite players,” Kiarie also chipped in.

The National Assembly also scrapped amendments that excluded technology companies from being compelled to takedown music that infringes on musicians’ copyright.

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The amendments are not progressive, they are retrogressive therefore we cannot carry them in a bill that is meant to protect artists,” said Wanga who withdrew her proposal.

The Partners Against Piracy (PAP) forum had expressed reservations with provisions in the proposed law which will see three critical sections repealed from Kenya's Copyright (Amendment) Act 2019.

According to the lobby group, removing Sections 35B, 35C and 35D will make it harder for creatives to uphold their rights when dealing with Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

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"While PAP welcomes the Increase in Share of Caller Ring Back Tune (CRBT) revenue to Creatives, we request our MPs to compare this Gain for all Creatives versus the continued Losses from Piracy, if Sections 35B, 35C and 35D of the Copyright Act are Repealed," a statement from the body outlined.

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