The mediation process between Ann Kansiime, Uganda Telecom and two broadcasting stations to have the copyright case settled out of court has hit a snag.
Sources from the Kampala based Commercial Court, intimated that the reconciliatory process failed because the UTL insisted that it signed a memorandum of understanding with Kansiime and she agreed to have her voice and image in a broadcast advert that was aired on NBS and WBS TV.
The telecom service providers stated that even before Kansiime demanded that they cease using her image in the advertisements, they had already instructed NBS to stop airing it and in response the television station confirmed cessation on February 23, 2016. To back its defence, UTL presented to court a five paged original copy of the MOU that it signed with Kansiime on October 17, 2013, whereby she consented to have her personality/image to be used by it in all media advertising, marketing and brand promotional campaign commissioned by it.
“For avoidance of doubt and not withstanding any other provision in this agreement, the model (Kansiime), by signing this agreement, un-restrictively permits/ licenses the use of her personality rights and the accompanying incidence of copyright and all other intellectual property rights to UTL,” reads part of the MOU. As per the MOU, the advert was to run for one year. There was no right for automatic renewal and the agreement may be terminated by either party at will by giving a prior 30 days’ written notice to the other party.
The MOU also showed that Kansiime was paid sh2.5m and given a monthly corporate mega bonus of sh15, 000 on her UTL line, for a period of one year.
According to its supporting defence filed at the courts’ registry on May 17, pursuant to the MOU, the comedienne acted in an audio visual fixation whose script, shooting and sound recording were produced and directed by UTL. “The said skit was consequently used in the first defendant’s (UTL) corporate mega bonus advertisements that were aired on the second defendants (NBS) television,” reads the defence.
UTL said that the contract provided for compensation in case the advertisement was to be used beyond the stipulated period. Therefore, when the artist complained, she was allegedly asked to particularize her claim for compensation, instead she hastily run to court.
The company also stated that it’s the one that has the copyright of the skit since it commissioned, authored, directed and produced it. This comes after Kansiime petitioning the court, accusing the telecom company and the two broadcast Television stations of using her image without permission.
In her petition Kansiime accused the trio of breach of her image, neighboring and economic rights protected by the law, unjust enrichment and invasion of privacy. She stated that, without her consent, Uganda Telecom (UTL) and NBS TV entered into an MOU in January 21, 2016, to market its product through an advert which had her as the main act (performer).
Kansiime said that through the memorandum, UTL and NBS were drawing mutual economic benefit from one another, neither of them had obtained her consent. “The defendants benefited from the said advert, as it was run on the 2nd defendants’ (NBS) television network and was viewed across its viewership, and in so doing without the plaintiff’s consent, they unjustly enriched themselves,” reads part of her suit.
She said that she would have been amenable to collaborating with the trio had they approached her. Through her lawyers from Kirunda and Wasige Advocates, Kansiime contended that her current earning per quarter for her image, neighboring and other economic rights is sh50m. Therefore, she made a loss of sh100m through the illegal acts of the trio.
She asked court to order the trio to pay her sh100m as special damages at an interest rate of 24% from the date of filing the suit until payment in full. Kansiime argued that when she complained about the trio’s conduct, she was ignored, precipitating her to file a suit in order to recover the money in form of damages.
In its reply, NBS presented to court an MOU it signed on January 21 with UTL for it to air the advert. WBS on its side denied infringing on Kansiime’s copyright, stating that it did not own the advertisement for its benefit. It said that the advert was shown as an advertisement from UTL.
It stated that its relationship with UTL in respect of providing advertising services did not require it to first seek permission from Kansiime. Therefore, Kansiime is wrong to bring suit against it.
Now the case has been referred back to the court registry to allot it time for a full trial.
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