Musicians who re-produce or perform music without owner’s permission risk up to 4 years in jail

Musicians have been warned that it is illegal to re-produce or perform musical works already published without the permission of the owner and that they risk up to four years in jail for breach of copyright.

The Music Society of Kenya (MSK) stepped in following a raging online row after a rising Mugithi performer Waithaka wa Jane performer was sued for breach of copyright laws.

After Waithaka Wa Jane was sued by original owners of the music he has been performing a huge online debate emerged with some people supporting him and others pointing out that he was in breach of the law if he never got permission as alleged.

Waithaka is engaged in a supremacy battle with Samidoh over who is the next king of Mugithi and after he was sued for breach of copyright, his supporters started blaming a hidden hand.

MSK cautioned upcoming artists not to be ignorant of the law saying that they must get permission from the original owners of the musical works they intend to perform or reproduce.

MSC asked them to note that The Copyright Act no 12 of 2021, clearly states that it is illegal to publicly perform and or reproduce in any form, already published musical works without express authorization by the original rightsholder(s) in the respective musical works.

It further warned that Section 38 provides for the criminal offences and penalties that accrue in excess of one million Kenyan shillings or a 4-year jail term or both.

The statement by MCK means that many “one man guitar” musicians who perform and sometimes reproduce musical works already published have been breaking the law.

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