Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Commercial Division of the High Court has issued an interim order blocking a United States-based music record label; Black Market Records Entertainment LLC from directly or indirectly making copyright ownership claims from Bruno Kiggundu alias Bruno K’s Songs.
Bruno K, a Ugandan-based singer petitioned the Court in 2022 saying that he had signed a one-year exclusive recording artist agreement with Black Market Records LLC on May 12, 2020. Under the agreement, Black Market Records was to finance the recording and production of Bruno K’s songs in exchange for exclusive copyright.
However, Bruno K told the Court that he only recorded one song for the duration of the agreement and that chose not to renew the agreement after its expiry in May 2021. Later on November 24, 2022, he filed a case before the Commercial Court claiming that the company had made false copyright claims to YouTube.
As a result, YouTube struck down Bruno K’s songs and disabled his channel. The main suit is yet to be disposed of.
Bruno K filed another application seeking a temporary injunction and an interim order, respectively, restraining Black Market Records, Its CEO Cedric Singleton Lychern and Kisame Shadrack Shagaf from continuing to make copyright claims against his music pending the outcome of the main suit. The second application was based on correspondence from YouTube indicating that more copyright claims had been made against his music.
In her ruling, Justice Mutesi granted the order explaining that there is a real likelihood that this conduct of raising copyright claims against Bruno K’s songs will continue and that more of his works will be struck down from YouTube and other music streaming platforms even before the disposal of the substantive application for a temporary injunction.
According to Lady Justice Patricia Mutesi, the order is in place until the hearing and determination of the application for a temporary injunction. The Judge also ordered the suit to proceed exparte against Black Market Records on grounds that Cedric Singleton Lychern the Chief Executive Officer had admitted on record as the one striking down Bruno’s music.
“In any case, since the ownership of the copyright in the applicant’s songs is still an issue in the main suit, the interests of justice would be best served if the respondents allow this Court to first conclusively determine this ownership through a full trial before making further claims to third party music streaming platforms to the detriment of due process and fair hearing”, said Mutesi.
She added that this fact was not contested by the respondents in their affidavits in reply and a review of the court record confirmed that the said application by Bruno K is indeed still pending before the commercial court. The suit was adjourned to March 5, 2024, for a hearing.