Business Daily (Kenya)
Content provided by Asianet-Pakistan

Telecommunications operator tml » target= »_blankSafaricom has said it paid out Sh325 million to artistes in the past five months for use of their call-back tunes, shinning a light on the lucrative music business.

The firm has been at the centre of a legal power struggle between three Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) and other agencies contracted by artists to manage their creative rights.

The Malindi High Court has nullified a section of the law that restricted artists to receiving their royalties only through the three CMOs Music Copyright Society of Kenya, Kenya Association of Music Producers and the Performance Rights Organisation of Kenya (PRSK).

« The ruling directs that Safaricom pay all royalties from Skiza our music download platform directly to Content Service Providers (CSPs), » said Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore on Wednesday in a statement.

Mr Collymore added that the new directive contradicts a judgement issued in May at the Nairobi High Court stating that royalties should be paid only through CMOs.

The Malindi petition was filed by two artists Mercy Munee Kingoo and Lydia Nyiva Kingai who argued that they had no agreement with the CMOs to handle their royalty payments.

They said since 2008, their royalties had been handled by Liberty Africa.

Justice Said Chitembwe said no Kenyan should have their option of how to be paid restricted.

« Such an arrangement is tantamount to obstructing an employee or anyone not to get his salary or payment through any other bank other than the one preferred by the employer or paying body. This is unconstitutional, » said Justice Chitembwe.

Mobile phone subscribers are charged Sh0.75 daily for every ring back tune. Artists are paid 7.5 per cent of the revenue from downloads of their music.