Why Raila Odinga campaign team owes no artist anything- Ezekiel Mutua MCSK boss

Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) CEO Ezekiel Mutua at the Standard Group Headquarters during an interview on May 3, 2022. [David Gichuru, Standard]

The Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) has dismissed claims that Raila Odinga's presidential campaign team owes popular boy band Sauti Sol money for using their song in its campaigns without consent.

This was after the Kenya Copyright Board said that the music group has the right to demand compensation from Azimio la Umoja after the political outfit used their song without consent in a synchronized video.

In a statement on his social media accounts this evening, MCSK boss Ezekiel Mutua said that the Odinga-led campaign team had been licensed to use local and international songs during his public campaign.

“We wish to clarify that we licensed the Raila Odinga Presidential Campaign for use of musical works in their campaigns as per the Copyright Law and gazetted tariffs. We are therefore shocked to see the confusion being caused by KECOBO over this matter,’ Mutua said.

The former KFCB boss also attached a copy of the licence document indicating the political outfit had paid about half a million to access and publicly use artists’ works.

Mutua says there are over 15, 000 artists, including Sauti Sol, who have assigned performing rights as well as mechanical rights that include synchronisation to MCSK.

He suggests that if the synchronisation was a problem concerning the music band and the parties involved, which he termed as ‘Collective Management Organisations’, can solve amicably.

“The Kenya Copyright Board is not a CMO and should stop causing confusion to spite the CMOS or inconvenience our clients. If there's any issue about the synchronisation of the video, that should be a matter to be resolved by the CMOs who issued the license,” he added.

Then went on “We, therefore, wish to clarify that the licenses issued to the Raila Odinga Presidential Campaign team are sufficient and the confusion by KECOBO is both unwarranted and unfortunate as these are matters we should have resolved amicably, given that we licensed the client in broad daylight,”

Mutua has also shared a joint document dated May 11, 2022, whose validity runs up to May 6 next year.

The document brings together the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP), the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) and the MCSK itself.

The license document states that Raila Odinga's presidential campaign team had been awarded a Joint Copyright License which only allows the team to publicly communicate any works of artists, but for a year.

If the one-year period lapses, the Azimio team is required to renew its license failure to which a fine is imposed.

“The licence fees payable are calculated in accordance with the relevant tariff for the time being in force, a copy of which is available at KAMP, PRISK and MCSK,” the document read in part.

The saga began on Monday evening, shortly after the former prime minister unveiled his running mate on his official and verified Twitter page.

Odinga shared a short multi-media clip, about 21 seconds, with a synchronized Sauti sol music known as ‘extravaganza’.

Sauti Sol took issue with that, saying they never gave Azimio la Umoja or Raila Odinga permission to use their song for political reasons.

The boy band, consequently, said they’ll seek legal redress.

The issue triggered a debate on social media, with Twitter users divided on whether Sauti Sol had the right to fault the political outfit.

The issue has elicited mixed reactions among Kenyans who are actively using social media, as some condemned and others supported Sauti sol’s move.

The boy band has reiterated that they do not want to be associated with any political formation.