The Music Associations Alliance of Kenya (MAAK) has submitted a petition to parliament calling for a comprehensive review and amendment of the Copyright Act to protect artists’ rights.
According to the Justus Ngemu, Chairman of Kenya Association of Music Producers , there are critical concerns with the ACT that are negatively impacting its members that need immediate action to safeguard the interests of artists and copyright owners in Kenya.
One of the key issues raised in the petition is the licensing of Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) by the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO).
“This section clearly states that a CMO may be de-registered if it fails to function adequately, deviates from its Memorandum and Articles of Association, alters its rules to the extent of non-compliance, or fails to adhere to any provisions of the Act. This continued licensing of underperforming CMOs not only contradicts the law but also infringes upon our constitutional rights,” said Ngemu.
Another critical concern highlighted is Section 46(5) of the Copyright Act, which restricts the freedom of association for members, in violation of the Constitution of Kenya.
“This provision forces artists to belong to organizations that do not serve their common interests and denies them the right to exercise their freedom of association. Furthermore, it is disheartening to note that the Copyright Act has not been reviewed since the amalgamation of the Constitution of Kenya in 2010, failing to adapt to the changing needs of our creative community,” he added.
MAAK says it is strongly advocating for legislation that compels CMOs to distribute a minimum of 70% of the collected funds.
“Currently, the majority of CMOs allocate a significant portion of the collected revenue to administrative expenses, leaving artists and copyright owners with meager compensation for their hard work and creativity. Over the past decade, the Kenya Copyright Board has reported a consistent trend of CMOs utilizing a substantial portion of funds for administration, thus depriving artists of their rightful earnings. This exploitation of our members’ hard work amounts to nothing short of enslavement, a violation of the constitutional rights of artists and copyright owners.”
The Music Associations Alliance of Kenya is calling upon Parliament to heed to the concerns and initiate a thorough review of the Copyright Act.
“We urge the government to enforce the provisions of Section 49(9) to prevent the licensing of underperforming CMOs, safeguarding the interests of our members. Furthermore, we emphasize the need to uphold artists’ constitutional right to freedom of association by amending Section 46(5) of the Copyright Act. Lastly, we strongly recommend legislation that ensures CMOs distribute a minimum of 70% of the collected revenue, thus providing artists with fair compensation for their invaluable contributions to the creative industry.”
MAAK adds that it remains committed to protecting the rights and welfare of its members and seeks a collaborative effort with all stakeholders to address the pressing concerns.
“Together, we can create an environment that fosters creativity, supports artists, and upholds the principles of fairness and justice within the Kenyan creative community,” said Ngemu.