Copyright Board starts licensing of new CMOs

Kecobo executive director

Kecobo executive director Edward Sigei.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

The Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo) has started issuing licences for Collective Management Organisations (CMO) for 2023. Interested entities should apply before October 25.

The move follows a ruling by the High Court, said Kecobo executive director Edward Sigei.

“The statutory requirements for licensing as a CMO are found in the Copyright Act and the Copyright (Collective Management Organisations) regulations,” Mr Sigei said in a statement.

“Members of the operating CMOs and the public are invited to raise any concerns or objections in writing on any operating CMO or on the process to Kecobo.”

Previously licensed CMOs will be subjected to a forensic audit. They will also need to demonstrate that they had complied with the previous year’s licence conditions and account for money received from local and international sources in the last three years.

Kecobo’s move came days after the High Court ruled in favour of the agency in a case where the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) sought to block the agency from regulating its operations.

Justice Anthony Mrima said MCSK is a Collective Management Organisation (CMO) within the meaning of the Copyright Act and is subject to control by Kecobo.

He dismissed MCSK’s claims that it was not a CMO but an association of authors, composers, arrangers and publishers of musical works.

Urging the court to stop Kecobo from interfering with its operations, MCSK claimed that as an organisation dealing with third parties in granting permission for the use of copyright works or related rights, the provisions of the Copyright Act do not apply to it.

MCSK explained that it negotiates, collects and distributes royalties on behalf of its members and other affiliates.

But Justice Mrima ruled that no evidence was provided in court that MCSK was a copyright rights holder.

The judge said MCSK acts on behalf of copyright holders and so it is an agent and a CMO.

Kecobo and MCSK have been at loggerheads over money and licensing conditions.

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