Cabinet paper to endorse MRS as Sabah’s licensing body representative

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KOTA KINABALU: Local artists should be fairly compensated for their hard work through music licensing and royalty distribution.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said local artists have long been neglected and their efforts in producing high quality and entertaining ethnic music have not received adequate support.

“The Copyright Act 1987 has never been implemented fairly for Sabah ethnic songs for the past 35 years.

“For example, a musician revealed that last year, he only received RM13.57 for one of his hit songs. A Malayan artist would have received at least RM200.

“It is no surprise then that our most gifted artists are flocking to Malaya since they can earn a better price for their music there,” he remarked.

Kitingan said this after receiving a courtesy call from the Music Rights Sabah (MRS) Berhad at his office on Friday.

During the 90-minute meeting, Kitingan was briefed about the purpose of MRS and their objective by MRS Managing Director Asmin Mudin. Also present were MRS Board of Members Justin Juani and Mohd Ashraf Abdullah.

Kitingan agreed that there is an urgent need to defend the rights of indigenous artists through licensing and royalty distribution for all ethnic songs in the Sabah region and in Labuan.

During the meeting, MRS stated that they intend to license the State-level Harvest Festival this year for a full month throughout Sabah, as well as in all KDCA branches in Labuan and Malaya.

This is because during the Harvest Festival season, more local ethnic songs will be performed everywhere.

“I am personally in favour of MRS. We should have our own licensing representative in Sabah to prevent Malayan royalty distribution bodies from stripping our local artists of their royalty rights,” he said.

As such, Kitingan said he will prepare and present a cabinet paper on the subject in order to persuade the other ministers to support MRS’ licensing and royalty distribution activities.

“For more than 30 years, our local artists have been victims of injustice. It cannot continue in this manner. We need to restore the dignity of our local music to where it belongs,” he said.

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