Copyright board declares music live stream illegal, Djs required to seek special broadcast licenses

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Facebook Live stream. [Photo Dj Tech Tools]

COVID-19 pandemic brought the word to a standstill with lockdown and Kenya was not exempted either.

The dusk to dawn curfew was imposed a few weeks after the first coronavirus case was reported in the country on March 13. It has been with us since mid-April.

Lockdown notwithstanding, the pandemic saw the closure of entertainment joints across the country, a move that brought the industry on its knees in a blink of an eye.

However, the push to entertain people and help them get through the tough times saw the birth of a new era of entertainment where deejays are now serving a dose of good music to their fans via social media platforms; Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

In Kenya, this is a new norm that has been embraced with both hands. Kenyan deejays among them DJ Joe Mfalme of ‘Club Quarantine’, Dj Kym Nickdee of ‘Curfew Party’ among others have established a popular live mix every week via social media.

However, as this trend continues to gain traction, the question of its legality has cropped up over a pinned poster of M-Pesa number across all the live streaming sessions.

According to the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), this is in contravention of the law – it is illegal.

Paul Kaindo, an advocate with KECOBO said anyone who uses content from someone else for financial gain stands in the way of the law.

He said that any Dj live streaming music should, therefore, get a special broadcast license and a public performance license.

He said that due to the technicality of having every Dj get these two licenses, they can be harmonized into one through the Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) which allow them to use content from both local and international artists.

This, according to the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) Operations Manager Paul Nyenze would cost Ksh200,000 annually on condition that they are using this content for entertainment only and not for personal financial gain.

If the Djs are making money from this music, MCSK takes a certain percentage of whatever amount they make from this music.

“What the DJs who are conducting these lives streams are doing is actually legal and we can file criminal or civil suits against them,” Nyenze told edaily.

He added that a lawsuit is something they are considering as MCSK against DJs but are yet to conclude on the way forward.

Speaking on behalf of Kenyan Djs, Mfalme said they don’t understand why MCSK brought up the issues but they are “consulting”.