Court of Appeal squashes George Kakoma’s 50BN compesation

By Sania Babirye

The court of appeal has repealed the 50 million shillings it had awarded to Uganda National Anthem composer the late George William Kakoma for violating his copyrights to the song.

In August 2010 the high court declined to grant Kakoma who died in 2012, 5.2 billion shilling he had prayed for the recovery of damages, compensation and royalties for infringement of copyright and costs to the suit and instead awarded him 50 billion shillings saying the initial figure was astronomical and extortionist following a suit Kakoma filed against government in 2008.

However, being dissatisfied, the DPP appealed in court of appeal saying, Kakoma had been already paid a token of appreciation in 1962 amounting to 2000 Ugandan shillings hence no need for further compensation.

And today, the court of appeal has ruled that Kakoma does not deserve to be paid any compensation.

In the suit, Kakoma had alleged that government must be him each time the National Anthem is played.

Justice Yorakamu Bawmine while awarding Kakoma the 50 billion had stated that it was not in dispute that Kakoma had composed and wrote a musical composition which he entered into a an open competition for adoptions of a national Anthem and declared winner leading to its adoption into Uganda’s National Anthem.

And that in 1997, Kakoma did write to President Museveni suggesting a once and for all down payment of 40 million or a house in Kampala so that he signs off his copyright interest at a proposal of , 1,500, 000 Euros at 3500 exchange rate per pound.

The judge ruled that Kakoma had exclusive rights over his own composition which has stood the test of time but the payment would make government to have exclusive rights to the National Anthem .

He further ruled that Kakoma had filed the suit 46 years after the event justifying the delay due to the political turmoil that was going on in Uganda at the time and however, after returning from exile in 1986 he embarked o negotiations which never yielded any positive results.

The judge also said that the case gave useful reference in terms of future conduct in case of intellectual property.

The two parties had tried to have the matter settled out of court but after various attempts without any postive outcome, the matter was later resolved by court in which Government was ordered to compensate Kamoga.

Copyright is the set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work including the right to copy, distribute, and adopt the work.

Copyright lasts a certain period of time after which the work is said to enter a public domain.