EXCESS PASSENGERS: Kenya Copyrights Board wants all motorcycles to pay Sh300 per year in music royalties

On April 21, 2017 Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai gazetted the far-reaching royalty tariffs for artists via Kenya Association of Music Producers and Performance Rights Society of Kenya.

It is not clear why the major announcement did not receive a major media attention considering that even media houses will directly feel the brunt of escalated costs.

The tariffs, as developed by the Kenya Copyrights Board (Kecobo) will significantly enhance the cost of living - as the cost of transport, advertisement and generally that of doing business will shoot up.

The steep increment and widened payments bracket, the new rates will certainly reignite the hushed debate on the potential abuse of powers by regulatory bodies – especially when they are allowed to arbitrarily impose and collect levies from the public with little or no public participation thereby diming accountability.

Even as Prof Muigai gazetted the new tariffs, they still run the risk of going against a constitutional petition number 5 of 2016 ruling at the Malindi High Court. Notably, in his November 3, 2016 ruling Justice Said Chitembwe maintained that Section 30A of the Copyright Act Cap 130 was unconstitutional.

His argument had been based on an even mre fundamental premise – that the key changes were disguised as minor changes made vide the Miscellaneous Statute Bill. But it was a major amendment.

According to Justice Chitembwe, the changes should have been subjected to a reasonable level of public participation.

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