HIGH COURT, Kampala: The former President General of the Democratic Party (DP) John Ssebaana Kizito has been fined UGX15M. He used the late musician’s song (Merry Christmas) to promote his Statewide Insurance firm. Such FM radio and TV commercials have been running in the Luganda and Rutooro languages.
The retired businessman did not seek the consent of the family of the late musician prior to using the song nor did he pay any coin to the beneficiaries of the estate. Lutaaya died in 1989 after writing history as the first man to publicly declare his HIV positive status. Three decades later, his lyrics remain a force to reckon with.
Philly’s big brother Abbey Lutaaya who is also the administrator of the departed singer’s estate, Alive, took Statewide Insurance to court, accusing them of plagiarism whose simple meaning is using one’s literal works without their prior authorization.
In his written statement, Lutaaya showed how he obtained administrative powers on Philly’s estate on November 2, 1990. The High Court granted the powers to him and to Philly’s mother, Justine Lutaaya. Justine has since departed from this world too.
Lamenting that Ssebaana’s illegal activities had diluted Philly’s song rendering it of low value, Lutaaya argued that no music promoter is interested any longer in approaching the deceased’s family for purposes of neither using it in commercial concerts nor launching it.
The Ugx15m culminated from peaceful negotiations between Lutaaya and the MD of Statewide insurance Joseph W. Kiwanuka who also serves as the Papal Knight. After hammering out a peaceful settlement, Justice David Wangutsi of the commercial court reduced the same into a binding legal document from which no party should deviate.
According to the consent judgement, Statewide will use the song in commercial up to December 2018 after and then negotiate afresh with Philly’s family in case they would be still interested in using the song.