Kenyan Government Axes Corrupt Copyright Collection Group, Replaces It With New Collection Group That Will Surely Be Less Corrupt

from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept

While copyright collection societies the world over tend to be good hosts for the disease of corruption, not all corruption is equal. These collection groups often like to jack up fees when someone points out that they actually have to do their job, to threaten businesses in the most insane ways, and also to, oops, sometimes just totally forget to pay the artists they purport to benefit. Over in Kenya, however, the dominant copyright collection group, MCSK, went for and hit the corruption trifecta by engaging in all of three at the same time. Not a good look for anyone who thinks these collection groups have a role to play for artists.

It got so bad, in fact, that the Kenyan government has decided to pull MCSK’s license to operate.

The Music Copyright Society of Kenya has lost the licence to collect music royalties. MCSK’s boss Maurice Okoth was suspended in March last year over corruption claims though he was later acquitted.

The copyright board revoked MCSK’s license in February after its officials failed to submit their audited financial statements and amounts paid in royalties to their members. Edward Sigei, Kenya Copyright Board executive director, said at the time that MCSK had failed to submit the financial statement despite having been given a grace period of three months to do so.

Yes, even after being acquitted of corruption charges, MCSK still couldn’t even feign trying to be above board with the government by producing documentation detailing how much its artist-helping organization managed to help any artists. For a group with the singular mission of collecting money in order to pay artists royalties, it’s unclear to me how a failure to be able to produce its books on that mission is not deserving of the business death penalty. I also can’t imagine how anyone who had to suffer through MCSK’s corrupt practices could be anything but entirely soured on the concept of collection societies generally.

The Kenyan government, it seems, has a better imagination than I do. It has elected to replace MCSK with another collection society.

This follows the decision by the board of directors of Kenya Copyright Board on Monday to approve the licensing of a new body, Music Publishers Association of Kenya Limited, to collect royalties on behalf of authors, composers and publishers from March 2017 to February 2018, effective immediately.

“The decision was made after the new association satisfied the requirements of Section 46 of the Copyright Act, 2001, and Regulation 15 and 16 of the Copyright Regulations 2004,” read a statement from Kecobo sent to newsrooms.

Look, to be fair, it’s likely that Kenya’s Copyright Board doesn’t have the authority to simply state that no collection societies will be granted a license to operate, but someone in the government does. And, even if it is unwilling to go that far, I would think the government would at least want to hear from artists who had the pleasure of not being paid properly by the previously-licensed collection group. At what point do Kenyan artists, if not the Kenyan government, decide there is a better way to conduct business than making deals with the muck?

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Companies: mcsk, music copyright society kenya, music publishers association

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Comments on “Kenyan Government Axes Corrupt Copyright Collection Group, Replaces It With New Collection Group That Will Surely Be Less Corrupt”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Ahem Stevo… do you like your crow rare or well done?

‘what you say is true of the record labels but the article is discussing PROs (performing rights organisations) which pay very generously to those who write their own songs.’

Apparently the pay is so generous, they were unable to show any accounting of anyone they had paid?

Anonymous Coward says:

The Alternatives to collection agencies is a do it yourself system that would require artists to reach radio stations and other users of the products on an individual basis, negotiate the amount in each case, and then have the station issue checks to each artist.

Anywhere there is a pile of money you will find corruption. Even institutes and PACs are often created as nothing more than a way to collect money and pay the executives. Music royalty collection agencies are not unique.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Why not a copyright pool maintained by the government itself that can be used by anybody willing to pay a standard price for a blanket license and then the artists are paid by a system that takes into account volume of works from said artist in the pool, popularity or any combination of factors that help spread wealth more evenly? Sure it can be abused and it would need constant auditing but it’s better than leaving it in the hands of private entities who couldn’t care less.

Of course I’d argue that copyright is poisonous and should be repealed in the current climate but maybe we can actually reach a middle ground where copyright is sane and actually helps culture instead of screwing it.

DannyB (profile) says:

It's the least that the Kenyan government can do

This is the least despicable thing the government can do. Their statements about it strive to be the least untruthful. The result will be the least evil. And people victimized will hate it the least. The new collection group will strive to be the least dishonest that they can be. And the least crooked. And they will pay artists the least amount possible.

At least the Kenyan government did something.

This new collection group will be less corrupt, less crooked, less coercive, less unscrupulous, and less overreaching than the previous thieves.

So it sounds like an improvement. 🙂

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