By CGN Reporter
The frosty relationship between the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (Prisk) and the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) is hurting consumers.
Both groups have been flexing muscles over who has the right to collect royalties on behalf of their members in Western region.
The happenings are ongoing under the watch of the Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo) that regulates their operations.
Prisk main mandate is to collect royalties and license studio owners who deal with sound recordings and audio-visual works while the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) licenses and collects royalties on behalf of musicians known as Public Performance License to anyone playing music in public.
Now Performers Rights Society of Kenya (Prisk) claims that all licenses that were issued by MCSK are illegal and that the organization is not supposed to collect any royalties on behalf of musicians but them (Prisk).
On the other hand, MCSK through Western Regional Manager Lilian Imbogo is accusing Prisk of invading their territory and harassing their members using the police drawn from Kakamega Central Police Station.
Ms Imbogo was reacting to an incident that happened yesterday officials from the Performers Rights Society of Kenya accompanied by police officers arrested their members over claims they were playing music in public without a license.
One of the traders operates an electronic shop whereas the other one owns a boutique. Police stormed into the two shops, arrested the two and locked them at Kakamega Central Police station.
The incident brought the normal operations at Tharau Shopping Centre within the Kakamega Central Business District (CBD) to a standstill.
“It was uncouth and a barbaric act from Prisk officials and the police to storm to the shops and harass our members. Prisk should stop invading our territories. Police should also desist from being misused to do crackdowns that are illegal,” said Ms Imbogo.
Ms Imbogo claimed that officials from Prisk been collecting royalties illegally from unsuspecting traders and licensing them despite having been licensed by MCSK.
“We have received several complaints and we are compiling our evidence so that we can deal with them. They are supposed to only license studios that deals with sound recordings and audio visual works only,” said Ms Imbogo.
She said they will take the head on and defend their members from harassment and intimidation.
Peter Kibunjia, one of the traders who was arrested said they had been harassed by officials from Prisk for three consecutive days and had resisted paying the Sh9000 they were demanding.
Mr Kibunjia said officials demanded they pay Sh9000 for license and yet they had paid earlier Sh4,520 to the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK).
“We don’t own a production studio but a retail shop. We are supposed to pay for our license to the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) and Prisk has no right to collect money from us. They have harassed us for three consecutive days and today they came with the police,” said Kibunjia
He added: “My wife is a musician and her allegiance is to MCSK. What happened today is conmanship and they are using the police to fleece us. I have paid Sh9000 to secure my freedom. My colleague is still in the cells,”
He said they will move to court seeking interpretation of the matter.
His wife, Nancy Mwende said the officials took advantage of the ongoing elections in Bungoma so as to invade the territory of MCSK. “Prisk has no physical office in the region and it’s just a briefcase office. We will move to court to demand the money we paid today,”
Caroline Ochola, who came with the police to do the arrests to the traders when contacted for comments, she said she was busy and the matter at hand was not worthy commenting on it.
Earlier on, Ms Ochola at a media briefing with Kakamega Central OCPD Joseph Chebii walked out of the session in protest when journalists were asking her questions over the matter.
But Mr Chebii, the OCPD defended himself saying they got authority from above to give security to them.
“We received communication from above that we give security to the officials of Prisk. But what it has turned out to be has confused us. We don’t know the territorial jurisprudence for the two organizations when it comes to collection of royalties,” said Chebii.