The Attorney General has approved and gazetted new tariffs for collective management organisations (CMOs) in the music industry which will be valid from April 2017 to December 2018. According to Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), the new tariffs were set based on discussions with stakeholders and the CMOs which were moderated by KECOBO. It is important to note that KECOBO has encouraged the CMOs to collect royalties jointly meaning users will pay a single license fee to the three CMOs.

For the first time, the AG has allowed two categories of users to be exempt from paying license fees namely, small businesses that use transistor radios in their premises as well as charity and fundraising events. According to the Legal Notice, users are entitled to receive a joint invoice from the CMOs payable annually with a joint invoice being payable within two months of issue. If a user neglects, refuses and/or fails to pay the license fee within the stipulated two month period, there is a non-compliance penalty of 5% of the tariff that shall be payable for the period it remains unpaid.

Interestingly, an initial media report on this subject highlighted Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) as the primary if not the sole CMO responsible for the collection of royalties based on the tariffs. There is also mention of concerns raised by stakeholders regarding the operations of MCSK.

Subsequently, KECOBO published a public notice on the Legal Notice, which states in part as follows:

“The new tariffs will be implemented by the three music CMOs licensed by KECOBO to operate as CMOs. They are: Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK), Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and Music Publishers Association of Kenya (MPAKE). The Board of Directors of KECOBO in March rejected an application to renew the license of Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) to operate as a collecting society after it failed to fulfil conditions attached to its last license amongst other reason.”