Activist sues copyright watchdog over management societies licenses
Tuesday May 23 2023
An activist has taken the Kenya Copyrights Board (Kecobo) to court for renewing the registration of licenses to three collective management societies without a board of directors.
Mr Justus Manthi Ngemu says in the petition certified as urgent that the move is illegal and the court ought to intervene and ensure that the law is followed as it concerns the collection of colossal amounts from the public, which is supposed to be distributed to artists.
Mr Manthi told the court that the certificates were issued on the instructions of parliament through the Departmental Committee of Sports and Culture on May 12.
He said the certificates were issued to the Performers Rights Society of Kenya, Music Copyright Society of Kenya and Kenya Association of Music Producers.
“That I also urge the court to note that, the Certificates empower the interested parties to collect money from the public. The constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of their property except in accordance with the law,” he said in an affidavit.
High Court judge Hedwig Ong’udi certified the matter is urgent and directed Mr Manthi to serve the CS Youth Affairs and Sports and the Attorney-General with the court papers by the end of the day.
The matter will mention on May 23 for directions.
Lawyer Stephen Gitonga told the court that the certificates empower the parties to collect millions of shillings in seven months, yet Kecobo has no power to issue a licensed title provisional renewal in the absence of the board.
Mr Gitonga further said the role of Parliament or any of its departmental committees does not involve giving instructions to regulators who are required to operate under the executive arm of the government.
“That in all the three instances, the license was issued illegally since the 1st Respondent’s Board of Directors expired in November of 2022,” Mr Gitonga said.
He said Kecobo violated the doctrine of separation of power by taking a directive from Parliament yet the regulator is a body under the executive arm of the government.
“Specifically, the 1st Respondent is a body under the Cabinet Secretary, Sports and Youth Affairs,” Mr Gitonga said.