LET US SUPPORT SAUTI SOL’S COPYRIGHT & POLITICAL RIGHTS
Letter of Support for Sauti Sol’s Copyright & Political Rights of Freedom of Association.
On 16th May 2022, it came to the attention of Sauti Sol that Raila Amollo Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja presidential campaign on social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram had used one of their popular songs Extravaganza as a soundtrack for a video used to unveil the Azimio la Umoja running mate Martha Karua. They are aggrieved by the use since they didn’t consent to the use.
Extravaganza was released two years ago and has garnered over 9.6 million views on YouTube.
What is very unfortunate is some of the public comments by citizens being made against Sauti Sol alleging that the Azimio campaign is right since they are giving Sauti Sol airplay.
MUSIC IS A PROPERTY JUST LIKE LAND OR A CAR
I wish to remind the citizens of Kenya that ignorance of the law is not a defense. Music is a property just like land. You cannot move into someone’s house without their permission and consent. Sauti Sol has the exclusive right to determine who can use or not use their music. This is a right given to them by the Copyright Act.
The constitution of Kenya grants every Kenyan including Sauti Sol the right to make political decisions or statements they believe in. This right includes the right not to want to be affiliated with any political wing. In fact, this is the basis upon which independent candidates are allowed to run. By using their music in political messaging without their consent, the campaign not only violates their political rights but also their right to freedom of association and their copyright which gives them the exclusive power to choose how their music should be used.
What about the alleged Joint Copyright & Related Rights License issued to the Campaign by the 3 CMOs KAMP, PRISK & MCSK?
The license issued to the campaign appears to be what is referred to as a Public Performance License. Under copyright law, Sauti Sol has public performance rights. As the name suggests, it is playing music in public spaces away from the home setting. Music played in a club or a matatu is an example of public performance. Public performance licenses are issued by CMOs. CMOs are organizations owned by artists. They help artists monitor the use of music in public and collect money from places where the artist cannot license personally. For example, it’s impossible for Sauti Sol to individually deal with the millions of radio stations in Africa, America, Europe & Asia playing their music. Vice versa it’s impractical for radio stations to individually reach every artist to seek their permission. CMOs are a bridge between music users like radio and music rights holders like Sauti Sol. The license seems to be limiting Azimio to use it on-premises where they are conducting their campaigns. It doesn’t seem to be extending the right to synchronize music on their campaign videos.
what are synchronization rights ?
Suppose you want to use music in a video advert or campaign you need to reach out to the owner of the song and obtain their written consent & permission. It’s important to note that music has two sides like a coin. One side comprises the written composition. The other side comprises the sound recording. It’s therefore very possible that an artist can own one side of the song while other parties have the other side. Some performing artists rely on other artists to write for them. When you fail to get express permission, you commit a violation of copyright.
support our call for reforms in Kenya music business
It’s for this reason that we launched a campaign in February seeking to reform music business practices in Kenya. For example, the 3 CMOs have failed to build a reliable music database that is easily accessible to give information about who owns what rights in a song. If they had such a web portal, Kenyans including Azimio would have been sensitized to use it to search for details of rights owners so that they know who to approach for which right they seek to use. Kenya has millions of songs composed and in use. Without technological solutions, we can’t manage rights properly. We have proposed that CMOs should be compelled by law to build such a database that is freely accessible in line with freedom of information laws. Let’s build a nation where intellectual property rights are given the same respect as other forms of property like land and vehicles. We urge Azimio to reach out to Sauti Sol so that parties attempt mediation and reconciliation.