The High Court has ordered the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) to stop collecting royalties and license fees as it was denied a license by the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) in 2017.

MSCK was denied a license in 2017 but has continued to collect royalties and licenses. A three judge bench consisting of High Court Justices R N Sitati, DS Majanja and TW Cherere sitting in Kakamega also gave MCSK 30 days to account for the licence fees and royalties it has collected since 2017 to date.

The judges also nullified the one year license issued to Music Publishers Association of Kenya in 2017 to operate as a Collective Management Organization (CMO) for lack of public participation. The judges, however, did not raise any issue with the 2018 license that was issued to MPAKE. This means that MPAKE has the mandate to collect royalties and license fees.

Currently the CMOs that have the licenses to collect royalties by KECOBO are:

  • Music Publishers Association of Kenya (MPAKE) – Representing authors, composers and publishers of musical works in Kenya.
  • Performing Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) – Representing performers in musical and dramatic works.
  • Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) – Representing producers of sound recordings.

KECOBO further introduced a joint license fee which makes it easy for businesses to pay annual fees and without needing to approach the 3 licensed CMOs individually.

KECOBO declined to grant MCSK a license after the organization was unable to prove that it paid out 70% of its collections from royalties and license fees which is a condition of its license. In 2015, MCSK apparently only paid out 13% and in 2016 it didn’t make a single payment.

Even without a valid license from MCSK is however claiming that the recent judgement has reinstated its mandate to collect royalties and license fees.

In recent communication, KECOBO has reiterated that MCSK does not have a license and so cannot make any collections.