MCSK representatives at a past exhibition. The Collective Management Organization's license has been revoked by the Kenya Copyright Board.
MCSK representatives at a past exhibition. The Collective Management Organization's license has been revoked by the Kenya Copyright Board.

The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) on Friday, December 11 revoked the Music Copyright Society of Kenya’s (MCSK) operating license over non-compliance with various regulations.

MCSK is one of three Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) licensed to collect royalties on behalf of rightsholders. The others are the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK).

In a statement, KECOBO noted that MCSK had failed to comply with multiple regulations introduced as part of a reform process for royalty collection and payments in Kenya.

Among other things, MCSK failed to submit a complete authenticated list of members and failed to upload members’ works to the National Rights Registry (NRR) database.

The NRR database was established on orders from President Uhuru Kenyatta to ensure artists are cushioned during the Covid-19 pandemic.

KECOBO boss Edward Sigei at a past forum
KECOBO boss Edward Sigei at a past forum. 

KECOBO Board Chair Mutuma Mathiu disclosed that more than Ksh20 million had been collected through the new system since June.

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“Though there is little work that remains to perfect the system, over 7,500 new works and over Ksh20 million has been collected over the system by CMOs since June 2020,” he stated.

KECOBO stated that MCSK funds would be held until the CMO complies with licensing conditions.

“The funds belonging to the society will be held secure until the shortfall is resolved to the satisfaction of KECOBO,” Mathiu asserted.

The revamped system allows rightsholders such as artists to fill ownership details, upload their works to a database via a web portal and receive a copyright certificate in under a day.

According to KECOBO, registration on the system will remain free “for a few more months”.

It also allows businesses and other organizations including bars and clubs to acquire consolidated music licenses via a USSD system or web portal.

“All copyrights holders and businesses that use music are encouraged to utilize the system robustly by voluntarily uploading their work and paying for their licenses in a seamless manner,” noted KECOBO Executive Director Edward Sigei.

MCSK has long been accused of stifling artists through corruption, mismanagement and lack of transparency.

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