Uganda’s dynamic duo Ngoni has sued the Uganda Health Marketing Group (UMHG) of infringing on their copyright by using their song ‘Ndi Ku Digi’ to promote condom use without first seeking their consent. In a suit filed at the high court in Kampala, the duo says the illegal incorporation of their copyrighted production into UHMG’s advertisement has negatively and falsely identified them with the product being promoted.
Ngoni - comprising Patrick Nyanzi and Eddie Dumba - further say that the act has offended and diluted the value of their persona, reputation and identity. Known only as Ngoni, the two hit the Ugandan airwaves with their debut single 'Bana City' in 2004. While the single wasn’t really successful, it was their later releases such as ‘Sunita’ released in 2005 that earned the duo more fans. With a well-trimmed Afro-Indian beat, the song rose to the top of the charts on almost every radio station and was a club favorite.
In the suit that was filed on 2 December 2015, through Busingye and Co. Advocates and Kizito, Lumu and Co. Advocates, the duo also contend that as a result of the infringement, their songs have been adulterated, pirated, plagiarized, have lost value and could not attract any sponsors for launching their best of Ngoni concert that was to be held in 2013. According to the duo, the single ‘Ndi Ku Digi’ is one of the songs they released alongside other songs with an intention to create an album that was to be launched in November 2013, but could not due to financial constraints.
It is alleged that in 2008 UHMG started using the song in advertisements for ‘Protector’ condoms, which were recorded in Luganda, Luo, English, Rutoro, Acholi, Runyankole and Swahili languages.
In the suit, Ngoni estimates that they incurred losses amounting to UGX 420million (about US$127 000) and now want the court to order for an inquiry into the gains UHMG got from the use of their song and order for compensation. They also want a permanent injunction against UHMG stopping it from using any of their songs.
The duo’s last well-known song was in 2012, when they released a video for their single ‘Joanna’. They then focused on producing music under their Good Enuff Productions label, before it was reported in late 2014 that Patrick Nyanzi was now turning to gospel music.