The High Court in Kampala has issued a significant verdict, ordering Airtel Uganda to pay Jamaican dancehall artist Garfield Spence, professionally known as Konshens, a sum of 670M Ugandan Shillings (approximately U$180,000) as general damages in a copyright infringement case.
This legal battle, initiated in 2015, revolved around Konshens’ assertion that Airtel, in collaboration with Onmobile Global Limited and Mtech Limited, unlawfully distributed his songs without obtaining his consent and subsequently declined to provide any royalties.
The lawsuit encompassed several of Konshens’ songs, including ‘Gyal a Bubble‘, ‘So Mitan‘, ‘Jazz Version‘, and ‘Simple Song‘, among others. The plaintiff contended that the defendants exploited his music as caller tunes within Airtel’s “Hello Tunes” program, charging subscribers Shs600 per download. This unauthorized use and distribution, Konshens argued, amounted to copyright infringement.
In a decisive ruling, the High Court sided with Konshens. Justice Patricia Mutesi, delivering the judgment, pronounced that the defendants were jointly liable for violating the artist’s copyright by using and disseminating his songs as caller tunes without consent. Additionally, the court held that the defendants’ actions, involving the distribution of Konshens’ songs without remitting proceeds to him, amounted to unjust enrichment. Consequently, the court granted Konshens U$180,000 as general damages for the copyright infringement, alongside an interest rate of 15% per annum from the date of filing until full payment. Airtel was also directed to pay Shs20 million as exemplary damages for the infringement.
The legal firm representing Konshens, Kalenge Bwanika Kisubi and Company Advocates played a pivotal role in securing this triumph. Konshens’ victory has garnered praise from his fans, with many congratulating him and expressing their support for the outcome.
We successfully represented @konshens in protection of copyright in his songs to wit; 'simple song', Gyal a Bubble', 'So mitan', No Retreat' among others for being used as caller tunes without any royalties paid to him.
"I therefore find that the 1st Defendant permitted the pic.twitter.com/IYizBX0Dna
— Kalenge Bwanika Kisubi & Co Advocates (@kbkadvocatesUg) August 23, 2023