On April 21, Attorney-General Githu Muigai gazetted far-reaching royalty tariffs for artistes via the Kenya Association of Music Producers and Performance Rights Society of Kenya.
The tariffs developed by the Kenya Copyrights Board will significantly raise the cost of living — as the cost of transport, advertisement and generally that of doing business will shoot up.
The steep increments will certainly reignite debate on the abuse of powers by regulatory bodies, if allowed to impose and collect levies with little or no public participation.
In his ruling on a petition on November 3, last year, Malindi High Court Judge Said Chitembwe declared Section 30A of the Copyright Act Cap 130 unconstitutional.
His argument was that major changes were disguised as minor alterations made vide the Miscellaneous Statute Bill.
The changes, he added, should have been subjected to a “reasonable level of public participation”.
Petitioners Mercy Kingoo and Lydia Kingai had sued Safaricom and the AG over a clause in the amended law, which compelled artistes to be paid their royalties through a management organisation and not the premium service provider they had contracted.
“The upshot is that the petition dated March 21, 2016 is merited as is hereby granted as prayed. The manner in which Section 30A is implemented is unconstitutional.
“Section 30A of the Copyright Act is unconstitutional, as it was enacted without public participation and it is being retrospectively applied,” the judge noted.
In the new rates, aircraft will be charged Sh1,039 per seat for audio or Sh1,234 for video for the first 50 seats.
Motorcycles will be charged a daily rate of up to a maximum of Sh300 a year.
Tuk tuks will pay Sh900. Video exhibitions will be charged an annual flat rate of Sh6,000 and jukebox operators Sh9,000 and Sh12,000, for audio and sound per unit per year, respectively.
Non-resident DJs and VJs will pay a flat rate of Sh12,000 and Sh15,000 per unit, per person, respectively.
“Music on hold” will cost Sh150 per landline per year.
Concerts with 3,000 participants will pay Sh250,000 and Sh300,000 per year for audio and video.
Road shows per truck per day for corporates, NGOs, the government or politicians will cost Sh30,000.
Live music performances for over 400 persons, Sh100,000 or Sh1.5 million a year.
Any choir will pay Sh12,000. Nightclubs and discotheques in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret and Nakuru, between Sh78,000 and Sh550,000 a year.
Playing music in lifts will cost between Sh570 and Sh7,000 for audio and Sh700 to Sh8,750 for video.
Cinemas will pay a minimum of Sh5,250 for audio and Sh6,250 for video music.
The maximum will range between Sh10 and Sh16 per square foot.
The same will apply for private members’ clubs, halls, shops, showrooms, and banking halls, gymnasiums, hair salons and barbers.
New media such as caller ringback tones, downloads, and streaming will attract new levies.
Hotels, restaurants and bars will be charged based on their ratings.
Industrial premises, factories, staff canteens, engineering workshops, and greenhouses will be charged a year based on their sizes.
Public service vehicles and taxis will be charged between Sh2,000 and Sh30,700 for audio, and visual PSVs between Sh2,500 and Sh36,500.
Broadcast media between Sh200,000 and Sh700,000 per month per station.
Commercial TV stations will pay Sh150,000 a month.
The government should revoke the new tariffs as regulatory bodies can easily review rates without parliamentary or other oversight.
This will be an avenue for enforcement officers to be easily compromised.
Also, the assumption that all motorcycles are used for commercial errands is wrong.
Mr Mutoro is the secretary-general, Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek).[email protected]