Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has explained the ministry is yet to reinstate police escort to Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) which enforce copyright licenses.
In a statement on Thursday, Kindiki explained that the National Police Service (NPS) withdrew its officers from the organisations to protect its image.
“The withdrawal of Police escort from the CMOs in 2020 was a decision made by the National Police Service to protect its image and informed by several complaints from members of the public among them, extortion by CMOs after making arrests, failure by the organisations to present arrested persons before courts and failure to present themselves as witnesses following arrests,” he stated.
“A Multi-agency operation should be preceded by a clear operational order that includes assigning responsibility to an officer in charge to enhance accountability.”
Kenya Copyright Board Boss Edward Sigei speaking during the Exchange Forum on “Economic Value of Copyright &Digital Creative Industries” on August 23, 2023.
The CS was responding to an inquiry from the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO).
Kindiki indicated that whereas the board’s licensing enforcement operations are legitimate, they must be implemented subject to a clear agreement on enforcement and operational protocol between the CMOs and the NPS.
“The National Police Service will enforce law and order, protect citizens’ right to own tangible and intangible property, and apprehend criminals who violate these rights,” he added.
The directive to withdraw their services was issued by the then Director of Criminal Investigations after reports claimed that the officials and their escorts were harassing the business owners.
“The Director, of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, has directed that from the date of this letter, this directive should take effect immediately, that no police officer is authorized to accompany any Music Copy-right staff while performing their operations,” read a statement from DCI at the time.
Some of the affected entities were the Music Copyright Society Of Kenya (MCSK), the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK), and the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP)
In 2021, musicians complained that since the directive was issued, they have lost millions of shillings in earnings. Their revenues dropped by 70 per cent.
They further noted that the directive coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, frustrating the officials’ efforts to collect royalties on behalf of the members.
The police escorts helped ensure full compliance by businesses that would otherwise not remit payments for using the intellectual property.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki addressing the media outside Nyayo House on September 1, 2023.