Jamaican dancehall star, Garfield Delano Spence, better known as Konshens, has emerged victorious in a long-fought copyright infringement battle. The High Court in Kampala has awarded the artist a sum of $180,000 usd (KSh 26 million) after a lawsuit against telecommunications titan, Airtel Uganda.
Konshens, a multifaceted figure in the music industry, being a recording artist and businessman, accused Airtel Uganda of unauthorized use of his tracks, notably ‘Simple Song’, ‘Gyal a Bubble’, ‘No Retreat’, and ‘Jah Love Me’, as downloadable callback tones. He instituted this suit back in 2015 against Airtel and two other defendants, making it clear that he held the exclusive intellectual rights to these songs.
He emphatically stated in his claim that at no point did he transfer or assign his copyright and intellectual property rights to the defendants. It was further alleged that Airtel Uganda, in collusion with others, unlawfully accessed and monetized his songs, charging UGX 600 per download without passing any proceeds to the singer.
Konshens sought a declaration from the court that the actions of Airtel and the other defendants were illegal and constituted a direct infringement of his copyrights. In his plea, he demanded the remittance of all profits made from the sales of his songs, alongside general and exemplary damages, interest, and the coverage of lawsuit costs.
The culminating moment arrived when Hon. Justice Patricia Mutesi, on 21st August 2023, delivered the judgment in favor of Konshens. The verdict made it clear that the defendants were culpable. As compensation for the infringement of his copyrights and exemplary damages, the court awarded Konshens the sum of USD $180,000.
This groundbreaking decision underscores the significance of artists’ intellectual property rights and serves as a stark reminder that even powerful corporations must respect and uphold these rights.