This week, Safaricom was on the receiving end of backlash by members of the public on social after artiste Eunice Njeri complained over unpaid royalties amounting to Ksh. 30 million.
In a rejoinder, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bob Collymore has said the company will abide with a ruling made by the Malindi High Court as it is the latest High Court position on this matter, and that directed Section 30A is unconstitutional as it limits the manner in which artist royalties are paid.
The court further enabled Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) such as Music Copyright Society of Kenya, Kenya Association of Music Producers and the Performance Rights Organisation of Kenya (PRSK) to collect royalties on behalf of artists.
The ruling also directs that Safaricom pay all royalties from Skiza – the music download platform – directly to Content Service Providers (CSPs).
The ruling was made on November 1 judgment on Constitutional Petition Number 5 of 2016 and was filed by Mercy Munee Kingoo and Lydia Nyiva Kingai.
The new directive contradicts an earlier judgment delivered by the Nairobi High Court on 11th May, 2016 under Petition Number 317 of 2015.
In that judgment, the Nairobi High Court directed that we pay artists’ royalties through the CMOs, effectively affirming Section 30A. In compliance with the Nairobi High Court directive, and following various consultations with industry stakeholders, in July we entered into an Agreement with the CMOs to pay the artists To date under this Agreement, we have paid out over Sh325 million.
We will abide by the Malindi High Court directive, as it is the latest High Court position on this matter. However, we ask that all the parties involved in this dispute – the artists, CMOs and CSPs – to seek clarity on the matter and settle on a payment structure amicable to all.