Court dismisses Sebaggala ring-tone case

Posted: March 7, 2015 in News

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THE HIGH COURT has dismissed with costs the case in which former Kampala Mayor Nasser Ntege Sebaggala sued MTN Uganda and SMS Media for creating a call ring back tone (CRBT) using extracts from public comments he made in 2011.

Justice Christopher Madrama gave his judgement Friday afternoon exonerating SMS Media who were conjoined in the case as third party, and MTN Uganda, the defendants.

In his ruling, Justice Madrama said the plaintiff was not the author of the works since he had not arranged or made the recordings used to create the ringtone, and could therefore not enjoy any protection under the Copyright Law.

“Copyright law in cases of voice recording serves producers. The plaintiff didn’t give restriction on how his speech would to be used,” Justice Madrama said during his ruling.

Justice Madrama also said Sebaggala failed to prove to court that the ring-tones in question were injurious to his character, which he noted is “charismatic”, as his statements during his Q&A session with journalists were not altered in any way.

SMS Media Director Simon Kaheru thanked the judicial system and the lawyers who handled the case, for being diligent and “extremely sensible”.

“The courts have considered the facts of the case over three years and have ruled quite clearly. We can now get back to work and continue producing high quality, creative content for our subscribers and customers,” he said.

The case arose on July 13, 2012, with now former senior special presidential advisor Sebaggala accusing MTN of using his voice recording in various ring-tones without his consent.

The ring-tones were extracted from oral statements contained in video and audio-visual recording made in May 2011 at Parliament. At the time, Sebaggala was a ministerial nominee.

He was addressing journalists shortly after appearing before the vetting committee.

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