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Bien urges Ruto to save music industry from corrupt cartels

 Bien speaking during the release of scientific distribution of royalties by KAMP (Courtesy)

Artists are up in arms following the decision by the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) to grant a one-year licence to the Performing and Audio-Visual Rights Society of Kenya (PAVRISK) to oversee all music and performer rights in the audiovisual sector.

Led by Bien-Aimé Baraza and Bishop Antony Musembi, the artists have called on President Ruto to intervene, stating that the regulator has infringed on their constitutional rights.

“We are asking President William Ruto to come save this industry from the hands of the cartels who are corrupt,” The Lost n Found singer told members of the press.

Speaking during the release of scientific distribution of royalties by the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP), the board chair Angela Ndambuki stated that they will be seeking legal redress on the matter.

“With regards to KAMP, we met ALL requirements of the law as per our application documents submitted and fully addressed the only two concerns the regulator raised. It is on this basis that the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) will be challenging the award of the one CMO licence to PAVRISK. In our appeal, we will be seeking that the licence should have been awarded to KAMP,” she stated.

Angela, who is an advocate of the court, says they feel short-changed having met all the requirements that KECOBO sought when the regulator required interested applicants to apply for licences to operate as CMOs in Kenya, under the guiding provisions of the law; sections 46(2) & (4) of the Copyright Act and Regulations 3(1), 5 (1&3) of the Copyright (Collective Management) Regulations 2020.

“With no further clarification sought by the regulator, we then shockingly received the announcement from KECOBO that PAVRISK, formerly PRISK, has been selected as being the 'most transparent, efficient and having capacity to collect and distribute royalties for all rights' through a press statement dated 6th June 2024. We have since then received a letter from KECOBO citing reasons for denial of the operation licence which we have responded to and hereby challenge,” she stated.

KAMP says it will be working with other like-minded organisations representing other rights so that there is a seamless process where all parties are involved.

“KAMP is also in discussions where, if preferable, one CMO can collect the royalties but then sends the 70 per cent for distribution to the respective societies where a member has assigned its rights and where that member is comfortable being domiciled,” she added.

KAMP Adhoc Committee member Benard Mukaisi demanded the Director of Criminal Investigation to take action on the "theft of musicians' money by cartels," which he said are led by KECOBO’s failure to do its job properly.

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