Collecting Societies Demand Whopping 170 Million Shillings from Leading Broadcasters in Copyright Infringement Suits

KECOBO Renews Registration of KAMP and PRiSK as CMOs. L-R: Justus Ngemu - KAMP Chairman, Clifford Wefwafwa - KAMP GM, Marisella Ouma - KECOBO ED, Angela Ndambuki - PRiSK CEO, Robert Kimanzi - PRiSK Chairman.

KECOBO Renews Registration of KAMP and PRiSK as CMOs. L-R: Justus Ngemu – KAMP Chairman, Clifford Wefwafwa – KAMP GM, Marisella Ouma – KECOBO ED, Angela Ndambuki – PRiSK CEO, Robert Kimanzi – PRiSK Chairman.

This blogger has confirmed a recent media report that the two related rights collecting societies: Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and Performers’ Rights Society of Kenya (PRiSK) have simultaneously taken five broadcasting organisations to court for infringement of copyright. The five identical suits HCCC No. 322, 323, 324, 325 & 326 of 2015 have been filed in the Commercial Division of the High Court against Royal Media Services (RMS), Nation Media Group (NMG), Standard Group (SG), MediaMax Network (MMN) and national broadcaster, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).

PRiSK and KAMP claim that they are mandated to collect license fees on behalf of the performers and producers of sound recordings and duly notified the five broadcasters that it is under an obligation under Sections 27, 30A, 35(1)(a), 25 and 38(2) and 38(7) of the Copyright Act to pay licensing fees in respect of sound recordings and audio-visual works broadcast to the public. In this regard, the collecting societies claim that the broadcasters have all failed and/or neglected to pay the requisite license fees to KAMP and PRiSK from the year 2010 until and up to the year 2014.

A cursory look at the PRISK and KAMP joint tariffs for broadcasting sound recordings and audio-visual works available here and here respectively reveals that the minimum license fees payable by one broadcaster for one station is 1.68% of the broadcaster’s gross income subject to a monthly minimum actual license fee of Kshs 120,000.00. Therefore it is no surprise that in the case of RMS, KAMP and PRISK are claiming the staggering sum of Kshs 67,392,000.00 accruing from the eleven radio stations and one television station owned by RMS.

This unprecedented move by the related rights collecting societies will finally allow the judicial arm of government to interpret and address several interesting areas of collective administration under copyright law including the scope of the right to single equitable remuneration, the locus standi of collecting societies to bring action on behalf of non-members, the role of courts in determining whether a collecting society is imposing reasonable terms or conditions on the granting of a broadcasting license. Preliminarily however, this blogger wonders whether the five identical suits will be consolidated into one suit by the courts.

This blogger will keep readers updated on all the developments in these cases.

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