Viva Entertainment contends that despite the popularity of the song, it hasn’t been performed on stage because of the government ban on concerts as part of the measures to curb the spread of COVID 19 virus.
Musicians Freeboy and Winnie Nwagi
giant MTN Uganda is in trouble for the alleged sale of “Kwata Esimu” song,
which belongs to Winnie Nwagi and Mubarak Adams Mandela alias Free Boy as a
caller tune. Viva Entertainment Limited has sued the telecom company in the
Civil Division of High Court on behalf of the two music artists.
In its suit,
Viva Entertainment Company claims to have written, produced, published and
invested money in the song. The entertain firm was the court to declare that
the sale of Kwata Esimu as a caller tune to the public without authorization or
its consent amounts to an infringement of their copyright and unjust
Entertainment contends that despite the popularity of the song, it hasn’t been
performed on stage because of the government ban on concerts as part of the
measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
despite the song's popularity, the plaintiff (Viva Entertainment) was not able
to fully recoup the cost incurred while producing the said musical work, due to
the limitations in commercial engagement in the said work caused by the
defendant's illegal exploitation of the song without authorization from the
plaintiff (Viva Entertainment),” reads the suit.
“The popularity of the song was so immense it triggered dance challenges
locally and abroad from fans dubbed ‘Kwata Esimu Challenge’ which was a statement to the song's popularity.”
Through their lawyers of Katende,
Ssempebwa and Company Advocates, Viva Entertainment contends that they had
intentions of commercializing the said musical work through exclusive licensing
of its use to various corporate entities in Uganda and abroad.
however, contend that MTN which provides caller tunes to customers at Shillings
700 monthly went ahead to use the song without their consent. Viva
Entertainment Company now says it is entitled to payment in form of royalties
from MTN out of the proceeds from the unlawful sale of their song to the public
An extract of the song in issue
//Cue in: “Andy Music Winnie….
Cue out: …..know am dying”.//
states that due to the said actions, it has suffered anguish and therefore
should be compensated with Shillings 175 million. They are also seeking a
permanent order restraining MTN Uganda from the continued illegal sale of their
music and to be given 100 percent royalties as well as costs of the suit. MTN
Uganda Spokesperson, Rhonah Arinaitwe declined to comment since the matter is
already before the court.
The Civil Division Registrar, Jameson Karemani has summoned MTN Uganda to file
their defense within 15 days before the case is fixed for hearing. This
is not the first time MTN Uganda is being sued on matters related to caller
tunes. In 2012, the late Kampala Mayor, Nasser Ssebagala sued MTN Uganda
and SMS Media Limited accusing them of using his speeches and addresses as
ringtones and caller tunes without his consent.
that MTN and SMS Media Limited compensate him for infringing on his copyright. But
in 2015, the then High Court Judge, Christopher Izama Madrama dismissed the
petition on grounds that Ssebagala did not have a copyright that was infringed on
by the companies. He reasoned that his speeches were publicly broadcast in
Uganda as the current news of public and political events and besides, he was a