High Court Awards Konshens 660M In Copyright Case Against Airtel

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The High Court has awarded Jamaican dancehall Musician Konshens at least 660 Million Uganda Shillings as general and exemplary damages (with annual interest) against Airtel Uganda and its business partner OnMobile Global for violating his copyright in eight of his songs.

High Court Judge Patricia Mutesi, on Tuesday, the 21st found that the telecom giant and its business partner had unjustly enriched themselves when they sold Konshens’ songs such as “Simple Song,” “Jamaican Dance,” “Gyal a Bubble,” “ No retreat” among others as “caller tunes” to Airtel’s subscribers at a rate of 600 Uganda Shillings per download without the musician’s permission and did not even remit to him a portion of the proceeds from his work.

Justice Mutesi faulted Airtel for failing to conduct due diligence to establish whether its business partner OnMobile Global which provided Konshens’ music actually had rights to the music before giving it access to its phone network – as the telecom giant sought indemnification from OnMobile against liability.

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“ I wish to state my view that Courts should not give effect to contractual indemnity clauses in circumstances like the present one where the party claiming indemnification for copyright infringement did not conduct any reasonable due diligence to ascertain the indemnifying party’s legal right and capacity to deal with the intellectual property content. In such circumstances, giving effect to such clauses would not be in the interest of justice as it would prevent copyright owners from seeking legal redress against persons who negligently or willfully aid and abet copyright infringement in order to obtain financial benefits.” The Judge said.


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