Kenyan Copyright Collection Society Shockingly Found To Be Paying Artists Very Little
from the no-way! dept
The very existence of copyright collection societies, those organizations that try to find any way to squeeze any amount of money of any businesses that in any way do anything with any music, is predicated on one excuse: they do all of this for the artists. Yes, throughout the world, benevolent money-changers are digging through the pockets of mostly small business owners, just trying to get some coin for song-writers and musicians. Nevermind that they’ll occasionally jack up the fees they collect when they find they actually have to do the job of protecting artists. Nevermind that the disease of corruption appears to find these collection societies to be particularly good hosts. It’s for the artists, maaaan.
Except it never really is. People who aren’t paid to say nice things about these collection groups seem to know this intrinsically, the same way a child somehow knows not to reach to scratch the underside of a wasp’s chin in order to make a friend. Here to serve as one good example of just how not-about-the-artists these collection societies are is the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), which is being given a stern talking to by the Kenyan government for paying artists less than a third of the money it collects on their behalf.
The MCSK boss, Maurice Okoth, is said to have appointed Nasratech as a Premium Rate Service Provider to licence and collect royalties from ring tones. His wife Shamillah Kiptoo has controlling shares at Nasratech.
The licence allows Nasratech to exploit the catalogue on any platforms as ring tones and ringback tones or any other tones required by a client. Attempts to reach Okoth for comment were futile as he did not answer calls or reply to text messages. The board says it has noted the ratio of royalties to expenditure from MCSK’s audited accounts amounts to 58.9 per cent of collected revenue. Only 29.2 per cent is left, or is spared, for royalties. The other 21.9 per cent is used for other activities.
I humbly suggest that we refer to this as the Kenyan Collection Society Trifecta. You take equal parts nuptial nepotism, money-grubbing, and money-hiding — and you have the kind of story that makes one wonder why any artist would want to be associated with these people at all. Kenya, by the by, has established guidelines for the ratio of royalties to expenses these collection groups are supposed to follow. Those guidelines require 70 percent royalties to artists and 30 percent expenditures. In other words, MCSK isn’t even remotely close. In fact, it almost looks like MCSK misunderstood the ratios, in the reverse. Except that wouldn’t explain the ongoing trend at MCSK.
The amount of royalties to artistes has been decreasing every year. Royalties paid in June 2014 were less than those paid in June 2013, according to Kecobo executive director Marisella Ouma. The MCSK has ignored Kecobo’s requests to provide a breakdown of expenses.
In other words, MCSK isn’t confused. It would simply like to keep more money, please, because this isn’t about the artists and never was. This was about taking copyright law and converting it into a skimming scheme. Anyone really want to suggest that the collection societies in North America and Europe are any different?