By Andante Okanya
Former Kampala mayor Hajji Nasser Ntege Ssebaggala has explained the essence of new evidence in his ringtones copyright ownership battle with telecom operator MTN Uganda.
Ssebaggala’s statement is contained in his application to amend the plaint (main case), filed at the Commercial Court on March 12. It was filed through Walusimbi and Company Advocates.
The presidential advisor accuses MTN of infringing on his copyright by using his voice recording in various ringtones. SMS Media, which produced the recordings and transmitted them to MTN, is also a party in the case.
He wants an additional clause to be indicated, stating that his copyright, and other neighbouring rights, were violated.
“The amendment prayed for is necessary to indicate the plaintiff’s claim with sufficient clarity,” the application states.
Copyright infringement refers to unauthorised use of works owned by a copyright holder who enjoys exclusive rights.
In the suit filed on July 13, 2012, Ssebaggala is demanding for all proceeds from the sale of the ringtones. Each caller tune cost sh500, and was valid for 30 days. However, MTN has since abandoned trade of the ringtones.
The contentious ringtones, numbering four, were extracted from oral statements made in 2011 at Parliament at the time Ssebaggala was a ministerial nominee.
On Wednesday, when court presided by Justice Christopher Madrama convened, it had been expected to hear the application for amendment.
However, the hearing was re-scheduled for April 28. This was on the prompting of Sebaggala’s lawyer Nelson Walusimbi, who explained that he had been unable to get the signature of the registrar for the hearing notice.
Walusimbi said he could only do so on Tuesday, as the registrar was out of office on official duty.
MTN was represented by lawyer Paul Kuteesa, while Paul Kauma, lawyer for the originator of the ringtones SMS Media, was also present.
Also on Wednesday, hearing of the main case was scheduled for June 16.The judge instructed the parties to appear with their all their witnesses.
The presidential advisor contends that MTN’s actions are unacceptable in progressive market economies.
But MTN in its defence acknowledges that although the recording is indeed Ssebaggala's voice, he did not produce the recording nor did he acquire any copyright for the speeches.