This blogger has recently come across an astute ruling by the High Court in the case of Music Copyright Society of Kenya v Chief Magistrate’s Court & Inspector General of Police  eKLR. Justice L. Kimaru sitting in the High Court was approached by the authors’ collecting society, Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) to stay orders issued by the Magistrate’s Court freezing all the bank accounts of MCSK following a request by the Serious Crimes Unit under the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). DCI requested that MCSK’s accounts be frozen as it investigates complaints made by MCSK members in regard to alleged misappropriation and theft of funds at the collecting society.
After carefully evaluating the facts before him, Kimaru J ruled that the investigations were lawful and based on several complaints received by DCI from MCSK members and that the orders to freeze MCSK’s accounts were within the precincts of the law.
In this regard, the learned judge stated as follows:
“In the present application, it is evident that some members of the Applicant [MCSK] have issues with the manner in which the officials of the Applicant are managing the financial affairs of the Applicant. They are of the view that the officials are stealing or misappropriating what is due to them as members. That is a legitimate complaint which must be investigated to its conclusion.”
This ruling has been greeted with applause by a section of musicians in Kenya. One reaction is available here. This blogger submits that this ruling is an unprecedented step for collective administration of copyright and related rights in Kenya. This case in general and the present ruling in particular clearly demonstrate an awakening among rights holders who seem to be keen on ensuring proper management of their rights so that they may reap the fruits of their musical endeavours.
A copy of the ruling by the High Court is available here.