Court scraps Shs50m award to national anthem composer

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Prof George Kakoma

By Daily Monitor

Court of Appeal on Monday scrapped off the Shs50m award that the High Court had awarded to the late George William Kakoma, the composer of the National Anthem.

Court argued that the late Kakoma was paid Shs2000 in 1962 as a token of appreciation for his work and deserves no more pay.

In 2010, then High Court Judge Yorokamu Bamwine awarded Kakoma  Shs50m as compensation and royalty for the anthem.

Judge Bamwine noted that the award was his final settlement for the family’s claims.

Kakoma rejected the award, saying it was little for his efforts and through his lawyer Joseph Bossa, he asked for a compensation of Shs800m.

Kakoma had sued government for alleged violation of his copyright and sought an injunction to restrain the State from using his song- the National Anthem.

The widow, Mary Theresa Kakoma, took over the matter after his death on April 8, 2012 and filed an appeal in the Court of Appeal.

In a unanimous judgment of three justices led by Elizabeth Musoke on Monday, dismissed the appeal and quashed the Shs50m compensation the High Court had awarded to the family.

The judges ruled that the composition of the song by Prof Kakoma that was eventually adopted as the National Anthem in 1962 was done under the direction and or control of the government at the time and subsisted for 50 years until 2012, thus its copyright was accordingly vested in the Government of Uganda.

In their judgment read by the deputy registrar of the court, Agnes Nkonge, the justices explained that after 2012 the copyright ceased to have legal protection and is deemed to have entered the public domain.

“The copyright which was vested in the Government of Uganda enjoyed legal protection for fifty tears which expired in 2012. Thereafter the musical composition entered into the public domain. Accordingly, the composition no longer enjoys copyright protection and can be used freely by the public.

“The award of Shs50m which was granted to the appellant in Civil Suit No. 197 of 2008 had no legal basis and is hereby set aside,” court ruled.

Justice Bamwine had also disallowed Kakoma’s request to be declared the lawful owner of the anthem.

In his suit, Kakoma had claimed the State owed him royalties for each time the anthem was recited.

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