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Ezekiel Mutua opposes collection of royalties via e-Citizen

 Ezekiel Mutua [David Gichuru, Standard]

MCSK CEO Ezekiel Mutua has differed with Public Service CS Moses Kuria’s proposal to have musician royalties paid via e-Citizen.

Mutua said the government’s work should be to create an enabling environment for musicians to thrive and then collect taxes accruing from the royalty payments.

“When a Cabinet Secretary says that the Government will collect royalties for artists through e-Citizen, it's the highest level of ignorance. Music is a talent like football or athletics. Does the Government collect the pay of footballers or athletes through e-Citizen?

“Music is a private right and the Government can only get the taxes accruing from payment of royalties, but it cannot purport to administer copyright on behalf of musicians,” said Mutua.

This comes after Kuria said the government intends to amend the Copyright Act to create a Collective Management Organisation (CMO).

The CS said musicians would then be registered by the government and would view how money is collected through e-Citizen.

Mutua, however, stressed the importance of respecting intellectual property, saying the government should channel energies on coming up with the right policies for CMOs.

“The Government should support CMOs with enforcement and enact proper policies to protect Intellectual property. World over music business is run privately through CMOs because Government is not good at doing business.

“Hollywood was not built by the Government. It was built by the private sector. The work of the Government is to create an enabling environment through policy, fight piracy, provide enforcement and sensitise the public on the need to respect Intellectual property…If Government provided enforcement in line with Article 40 of the constitution, some of our artists would become billionaires overnight through royalty payments,” he said.

Royalty payment has been a thorny issue in recent weeks, with Kuria and Gender CS Aisha Jumwa openly disagreeing on the way forward.

"I like the zeal of my colleague and friend Moses Kuria and in the spirit of one gov't approach, this opinion is valid. However, my ministry through the state Department of Culture, Arts & Heritage is in charge and is working," Jumwa wrote.

"Once discussions are concluded, the ministry will pronounce itself on the next course of action. Asante,” she added.

 Public Service CS Aisha Jumwa. [Caleb Kingwara, Standard]

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