However, the nutrition research company contends that Musaala is not entitled to the money, arguing that he cannot claim to own a word “Alleluyah” because it is a generic name used by several people.
COPYRIGHT | FR. MUSAALA | ALLELUIA
Fr. Anthony Musaala has sued Alleluia Reflexology Health Center Solution and Nutrition Research Center Limited in the Civil Division of the High Court, accusing it of promoting Alleluia Natural Drink, using his song, titled Alleluyah.
Musaala, who is suing the company through his attorney Henry Tumusiime, is demanding sh60.5m for copyright abuse.
Musaala says he is the author of a praise and worship song titled Alleluia that he wrote and recorded 12 years back.
"The company did not seek my authorisation and consent before running the advert wherein the said song runs in the advert background," he said.
Musaala says he has not benefitted in any way by the use of his song in a commercial advert.
However, the nutrition research company contends that Musaala is not entitled to the money, arguing that he cannot claim to own a word "Alleluyah" because it is a generic name used by several people.
"Without prejudice, no real nor actual damages were suffered by Musaala and his claim is too remote and far-fetched to merit an award of damages. Only a nominal damage of $1 (sh3,600) would suffice symbolically if any infringement was to be established," the Company contends.
The company says the advertisement relates to the promotion of its drink under the name and style "Alleluia" different from Musaala's musical works titled Alleluyah-Hosanna.
To put the $1 in perpective, it is the amount only a parishioner as poor as a church mouse gives as offertory. If a Christian paid that as tithe, God would not be amused.
It may get you a good roadside rolex around Kampala, but not a meal that can be regarded as decent.
The company says it hired an independent contractor and advertising person/expert in the name of Godfrey Kayibanda Seguya trading as KAI Production, who made an original cinematograph advert praising its drink.
The company contends that its advert did not interfere with Musaala's musical works and that they are not in competition.
"None of Musaala's religious values was or has been destroyed by the advert," it contends.
The company says Musaala is not the first person to sing a song or use a praise word or slogan "Alleluyah", which is not the subject of copyright protection.
In any event, the company avers that its use of the song titled "Alleluyah" is not original and cannot therefore be novel or original as alleged.
Alternatively, it says the alleged infringement was only incidental to the principal matters presented in the advert film or broadcast, adding that the same is not infringement as it was casual or non-deliberate.
The defendant contends that it never authorised/ sanctioned/approved Musaala's works or took part of it as alleged and could not expect the advertising consultant to infringe on a third party's work.
It further contends that upon receipt of a letter on July 21, 2020, from the plaintiff's advocates, it immediately ceased use of the said advert in order to pave way for investigations, which has emerged frivolous.
Who is Fr. Musaala
Fr. Musaala is not your typical Catholic Church priest humbled by catechism.
He doubles as a recording artiste, who took on the nickname of The Dancing Priest.
Last year, he celebrated 25 years of priesthood, having been ordained by Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala at Lubaga Cathedral in 1994.
In 2018, Fr. Musaala was kicked out of the Catholic Church after he accused fellow priests of sexual offences and questioned the practice of compulsory celibacy for the clergy.
He later apologised to the church and was in January 2020 reassigned by Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga as curate of Lubaga Cathedral.