Court throws out artistes case seeking equitable pay

Artistes have lost their bid to have a section of the law that touches on their right to equitable remuneration declared as unconstitutional.

According to the artistes, Section 30A of the Copyright law violates their right to intellectual property.

However High Court judge Mumbi Ngugi has ruled that the law does not infringe on any of their rights as claimed.

She said the law does not require any artiste to be a member of a collective management organisation (CMOs) such as the Kenya Association of Music Producers and the Performers Rights Society of Kenya, which collect royalties for use of copyrighted works, so as to be paid.

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“Section 30A of the Copyright law does not violate the intellectual property rights of artistes, its only requirement is that there should be CMOs, which collect royalties for use of copyrighted works and distribute such royalties to the copyright holders; there is  no violation demonstrated,” the judge said.

Justice Ngugi, however, said the Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo) has the duty to ensure that CMOs account to all artistes whose royalties they collect and remit to the rights holders.

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Two companies engaged in the business of promotion and distribution of various musical and artistic works through digital platforms — Xpedia Ltd and Liberty Africa Technologies Ltd — and three artistes had moved to court seeking a determination of whether the law violates their right.

“It is not the mandate of this court, but of Kecobo, to inquire into the manner in which the licensed CMOs are carrying out their functions,” ruled Justice Ngugi.

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In a separate case, challenging unlawful collection of royalties from musician’s works on Skiza platform, the judge ordered Music Copyright Society of Kenya to render a full account of records that show monies collected from Safaricom on behalf of artistes within 45 days.

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