Sauti Sol Threatens to Sue Azimio Over Music Copyright

  • Photo collage between Sauti Sol band and Sabina Chege, Martha Karua and Raila Odinga at KICC on Monday May 16, 2022
    Photo collage between Sauti Sol band and Sabina Chege, Martha Karua, and Raila Odinga at KICC on Monday, May 16, 2022
    File
  • UPDATE 03:37 pm: Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) now says Azimio La Umoja One Kenya erred in using Souti Sol's song during the unveiling of Martha Karua as the presidential running mate.

    In a statement to newsrooms, KECOBO noted that Azimio only obtained a Public Performance License that allows them to play both local and international music at its rallies and events which is issued by the Collective Management Organisation.

    However, the use of sound recording with a soundtrack with visual images in a film, video, television show, commercial, or other audio-visual production is not part of the license that was obtained by the Raila Odinga-led faction.

    The Board argued that Azimio needed to acquire a synchronisation license which is only issued by the composer and the publisher, in this case, Sauti Sol.

    "Therefore the use of sound recording for synchronisation in the manner outlined by the complainant without authority is, therefore, infringement and thus violates Kenyan Copyright Law," KECOBO stated.


    UPDATE 09:54 am: The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has answered Sauti Sol after the band threatened to sue Azimio la Umoja for outright disregarding the country's copyright laws.

    In a statement released on Tuesday, May 17, ODM stated the use of one of their songs during the naming of its running mate at KICC was an appreciation of their success.

    "We would like to assure our celebrated musical team, Sauti Sol, that we love them & appreciate their music so much. The group has carried our country’s flag so high in international fora and every Kenyan appreciates this. Playing their song yesterday was a show of love for their work," ODM stated.


    Kenyan star band Sauti Sol has threatened to lodge a legal complaint against Azimio la Umoja One Kenya over music copyright.

    Through a statement issued on Monday night May 16, Sauti Sol accused the Raila Odinga-led Azimio of using one of their songs, Extravaganza, as a soundtrack during the unveiling of Narc Kenya Party leader Martha Karua as the coalition's running mate.

    Sauti Sol claimed that the action taken by Azimio’s campaign team infringed on their right to property as is guaranteed in Article 4 of the Constitution of Kenya.

    "It has come to our attention that the Azimio la Umoja campaign through its flagbearer and presidential candidate, the Right Hon. Former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga’s social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) have without license nor authority used one of our more popular original compositions, “Extravaganza,” as a soundtrack to the announcement post of the running mate," their statement read in part.

    Sauti Sol boy band during a past photo shoot
    Sauti Sol boy band during a past photo shoot
    File

    "This action is a flagrant disregard of our basic and fundamental rights to property and freedom of association. Through their action, they have taken away the right to own and control what is originally and solely our property and have directly associated us to their campaign without our consent. This is contrary to Article 4 of the Constitution of Kenya," it continued.

    The award-winning musical group further maintained that they are not aligned to any political side in the country.

    "We are disappointed by the Azimio la Umoja Campaign’s blatant disregard of our right to control the use of our copyright. We shall be seeking legal remedy for this clear violation of our copyright," the band maintained.

    Extravaganza song was released in 2019 where the group featured a number of artists including Nviiri, Bensoul, Crystal Asige, and Kaskazini.

    Their statement comes just days after the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) confirmed receiving Ksh562,500 from Raila as license fees for music to be used in his campaigns.

    The payment was made by his daughter Winnie Odinga after meeting MCSK Senior Licensing Officer David Kiragu on May 7.

    After receiving the payment, MCSK hailed Raila for paying to get a license to freely use music during his campaigns.

    "It's gratifying to see that presidential candidates are complying with the copyright law by paying for music used in their political campaigns.

    We thank Winnie and the entire Raila Odinga's presidential team for this gesture and urge other political candidates to emulate them by making payments for the use of copyrighted musical works in their campaigns," MCSK stated.

    According to Kenya Copyright Act 2021, any person who causes a literary or musical work, an audio-visual work or a sound recording, to be performed in public at a time when copyright subsists in such work or sound recording and where such performances is an infringement of that copyright, shall be guilty of an offense.

    From left to right: Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, Murang'a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, NARC-Kenya party leader Martha Karua and Azimio's flagbearer Raila Odinga during the unveiling of the party's running mate at KICC on Monday, May 16.
    From left to right: Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, Murang'a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, NARC-Kenya party leader Martha Karua and Azimio's flagbearer Raila Odinga during the unveiling of the party's running mate at KICC on Monday, May 16.
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    Raila Odinga