Jamaican Singer Konshens Wins Copyright Case Against Airtel Uganda, Awarded $180,000

Jamaican singer Garfield Spence, known as Konshens, has emerged victorious in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Airtel Uganda. The High Court in Kampala has ruled that Airtel Uganda must pay general damages totaling $180,000 (equivalent to about 670 million Ugandan Shillings) to Konshens for unauthorized distribution of his music.

The legal battle dates back to 2015 when Konshens filed the case, accusing Airtel Uganda, along with Onmobile Global Limited and Mtech Limited, of distributing his songs without obtaining his permission and failing to compensate him with royalties.

The songs in question, including popular tracks like ‘Gyal a Bubble,’ ‘So Mi Tan,’ ‘Jazz Version,’ and ‘Simple Song,’ were used as caller tunes for Airtel’s subscribers under a program called “Hello Tunes,” without Konshens’ consent.

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Justice Patricia Mutesi, presiding over the High Court, delivered the ruling in favor of Konshens. The court determined that the defendants’ actions of using and distributing Konshens’ songs as caller tunes without his authorization amounted to copyright infringement. Additionally, the court found that the distribution of the songs without compensating Konshens constituted unjust enrichment.

As a result, Konshens was awarded $180,000 in general damages as compensation for the copyright infringement. An interest rate of 15% per annum was applied to the damages from the date of filing the lawsuit until the payment is made in full. In addition to the general damages, Airtel Uganda was ordered to pay 20 million Ugandan Shillings as exemplary damages for their infringement of Konshens’ copyright.

This legal victory not only serves as a landmark case for copyright protection in Uganda but also underscores the importance of respecting artists’ intellectual property rights in the digital age. The ruling sends a clear message that unauthorized use and distribution of copyrighted content will not be tolerated, and artists have the legal means to protect their creative works.

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