Proposed copyright law tipped to boost artistes

Amendment bill gives Kenya Revenue Authority the role of collecting and remitting royalties for artistes as opposed to Collective Management Organizations

Enactment of the Copyright Bill 2017, which proposes radical changes to the Copyright Act, will see musicians, producers, actors, performers, film makers and creatives enjoy better revenues and accountability in the collection of royalties.

The amendment bill gives Kenya Revenue Authority the role of collecting and remitting royalties for artistes as opposed to individual Collective Management Organizations (CMOs).

“This can be viewed as an effort to bolster accountability and verifiability in the collection and remittance of royalties,” says MMC Africa Law Partner Bernard Musyoka. “KRA has greater collection capability as already applied with taxes and County revenue collection compared to individual CMOs.”

He said this particular clause will reduce the exceptional administrative costs that CMOs bear, which artistes have consistently complained of. “However, the increased number of intermediaries raises the risks of transactional charges eating into collected royalties just as CMOs’ administrative costs have in the past,” Mr Musyoka added.

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The Copyright Bill also proposes that the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) mandated to inspect and supervise various aspects of CMOs’ operations that will extend to the books of accounts and organizational records. Some of the details in the Bill that would lead to a CMO being investigated include failure to account for exploitation of works assigned or licensed to it, acting beyond its power, alteration of a CMO’s memorandum or internal rules to change its core business or exclude a section of its members and a failure to comply with a request for information or records among others.

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“The proposed section 46D (6) states that this investigative action can be triggered by a petition of at least forty-five percent of the membership of a CMO alleging the breach of the CMO’s constitutive rules or the regulations and the Copyright Act. These proposals would significantly boost the governance of CMOs to the benefit of artistes and other copyright owners,” Mr Musyoka pointed out.

Mr Musyoka, however, suggests that a few of the proposed amendments should be amended further giving an example of the section 30A of the Copyright Act, 2001 which was deleted by the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, No.11 of 2017.

“We propose that this section is reintroduced so as to ensure equitable remuneration for all artistes. This section recognizes the rights of producers and performers in sound recordings and audio-visual works. It also appreciates the role of collective management organizations who manage royalties on behalf of various stakeholders,” he explained.

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