Moses Kuria Suggests Music Royalties Be Collected And Disbursed Through E-citizen: Can It Work?

In recent developments, Moses Kuria, the current Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Performance and Delivery Management in Kenya, ignited discussions by proposing amendments to the Copyright Act. Kuria’s proposal aims to establish a government-run Collective Management Organisation (CMO) and streamline the management of music copyrights and royalties.

His tweet read,”The government is spearheading amendments to the Copyright Act to create a government run Collective Management Organisation. All music, copyrughts and royalties will be paid through E-Citizen. Our artists will be individually registered. They can view online how much money is collected. Siku 40 za wezi wa jasho ya artists zimeisha.”

With a background steeped in both public service and entrepreneurship, Kuria brings over 30 years of experience to the forefront of this initiative. Having served as a Member of Parliament and now holding a prominent position in President William Ruto’s cabinet, Kuria’s expertise underscores the significance of this proposed legislative change. As Kenya grapples with issues of transparency and accountability within the music industry, Kuria’s proposal signals a potential shift towards centralized administration and enhanced oversight. However, amidst these efforts to reform, questions linger about the practical implications and long-term ramifications of such a government-led approach to copyright management.

Against the backdrop of Kuria’s proposal, tensions within Kenya’s music industry have come to the fore, notably through public disputes involving MCSK chairman Ezekiel Mutua and musician Nonini. Nonini’s public outcry over alleged mismanagement of funds within MCSK sparked a heated debate, revealing underlying grievances within the industry. In response, Mutua vehemently denied the accusations, escalating the discourse surrounding accountability and transparency in royalty distribution. This clash underscores the urgency of addressing systemic issues and restoring trust between stakeholders.

The Role of E-Citizen

Central to Mr.Kuria’s proposal is the utilization of Kenya’s e-Citizen platform for managing music copyrights and royalties. Originally designed to streamline government services, the platform’s expansion into the realm of intellectual property raises both opportunities and challenges. 

While e-Citizen offers potential benefits such as enhanced accessibility and cost-effectiveness, concerns persist regarding data security and technical integration. The platform’s track record, including previous controversies and resistance from users, underscores the need for careful consideration in its implementation within the music industry. As stakeholders navigate this uncharted territory, ensuring the platform’s reliability and effectiveness will be paramount to its success in fostering transparency and accountability in copyright management.

Public Perception and Concerns

Amidst Kuria’s proposal and the ongoing industry disputes, Kenyan music fans and citizens express a spectrum of opinions. While some applaud the potential for centralized administration to address existing challenges, others voice skepticism and apprehension. Social media platforms buzz with debates, with users like @svinnie cautioning against government overreach and potential ulterior motives. 

A government that intends to own, run, manage and control every agency and state department is not doing it for the good of people but it’s scandalous agenda, looting purposes and crippling most important organs of a democratic country. “

The proposal’s alignment with past controversies surrounding the e-Citizen platform brings about many concerns, with users citing previous instances of resistance and technical issues as red flags. These sentiments reflect a broader sentiment of wariness towards government intervention in creative industries, underscoring the delicate balance between regulation and autonomy.

Conclusion

Previous instances, such as the resistance to using e-Citizen for school fees and controversies at the University of Nairobi, serve as cautionary tales. These experiences highlight the importance of addressing technical limitations, fostering stakeholder engagement, and bolstering public trust. 

As Kenya navigates this juncture, it must heed the lessons of its past and approach the proposal with transparency, accountability, and a commitment to addressing the concerns of all involved parties. Only through proactive measures and collective efforts can the country overcome the hurdles and pave a path towards a more equitable and efficient music industry landscape.

Moses Kuria’s proposal to amend the Copyright Act and establish a government-run Collective Management Organisation (CMO) in Kenya represents a pivotal moment for the country’s music industry. Against the backdrop of ongoing disputes and challenges, Kuria’s initiative holds the promise of addressing systemic issues and fostering transparency in royalty distribution. However, the proposal also faces significant hurdles, including public skepticism towards government intervention and concerns surrounding the integration of the e-Citizen platform.