Safaricom will abide by court ruling on Skiza payments - Collymore

Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore during the release of full-year financial results in Nairobi yesterday /ENOS TECHE
Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore during the release of full-year financial results in Nairobi yesterday /ENOS TECHE

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore has said the telecommunications firm will abide by the Malindi court judgment on Skiza payments that was

delivered on November 1.

Artistes and Premium Rate Service Providers scored a major victory after a judge ruled that a section of the Copyright Act is unconstitutional.

Justice Said Chitembwe also ruled that independent artistes and other producers cannot be compelled to join an association not of their choice.

This means the two complainants in the case cannot be forced to receive their royalties through a Collective Management Organisation yet they have no dealings with it.

In a statement on Thursday, Collymore asked all parties involved in the dispute

to seek clarity on the matter and settle on an acceptable payment structure.

The parties include

artistes, CMOs and Content Service Providers (CSPs). CMOs include the Music Copyright Society of Kenya, Kenya Association of Music Producers and Performances Rights Society of Kenya.

"We remain committed to working with all industry stakeholders," noted the chief executive.

"The ruling also directs that Safaricom pay royalties from Skiza - our music download platform - directly to content service providers."

Collymore noted that the Malindi ruling contradicted a May 11 judgment by the Nairobi High Court under Petition Number 317 of 2015.

The court ordered Safaricom to pay artistes' royalties through CMOs, effectively affirming Section 30A.

The CEO said his company

entered an agreement with CMOs in line with this ruling and after consulting

industry stakeholders.

"To date, under this agreement, we have paid out more than Sh325 million," he said.

Since 2008, Safaricom has been operating a portal called Skiza Tunes, used to download digital music content by its subscribers. The music is uploaded in form of caller ring back tones through the portal.

All was well until August 2015, when Safaricom signed an agreement with the Music Copyright Society of Kenya and CMOs, binding itself to channel artistes’ royalties through the CMOs.

But the two musicians - Mercy King’oo and Lydia Nyiva

- said they were

not members of CMOs and did not intend to join any one of them.

The caller ring back tones are in the category of performance rights, which the CMOs are not allowed to handle.

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