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Safaricom reaches Sh15.5m settlement with musician

Safaricom will pay compensation within 21 days. FILE
Safaricom will pay compensation within 21 days. FILE 

Safaricom has reached a multi-million- shilling settlement with musician John Boniface Maina, popularly known as JB Maina, which is set to end a protracted legal battle over use of the singer’s ringtones.

JB Maina will get Sh15.5 million as compensation for the alleged use of his 10 songs as ringtones through the telecommunication firm’s “Skiza” tunes and “Surf 2 Win Promotion” without his knowledge — a charge that Safaricom denied.

“I JB Maina… being the plaintiff herein and having been informed of the offer from the defendant, Safaricom, to pay Sh15.5 million… I hereby authorise the firm of Gikunda Miriti and Co Advocates, who are my advocates in the matter, to apply for the case to be marked as settled,” says Mr Maina in a document filed in court.

Safaricom will pay the compensation within 21 days from Monday, the day when the consent was adopted, failure to which he can move back to court to compel payment of the sum.

The deal settles a suit that at one time last year saw the musician seek contempt of court proceedings against Safaricom and other defendants in the case.

The High Court in May last year restrained Safaricom from storing and selling Mr Maina’s Kikuyu songs and directed the mobile company to grant the musician access to its head office for him make copies of all purchases and sales records of his songs.

But Mr Maina says Safaricom did not comply with the court order, prompting the contempt of court suit.

He asked the court to find Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore and three other executives guilty of disobeying court orders issued in May. 

The three executives are Alex Mwenga, CEO of Interactive Media Services; Sydney Wachira (head of Liberty Afrika); and Maurice Okoth, the chief executive of Music Copyright Society of Kenya. The agreement also settles the case against the other defendants.

The musician filed the suit demanding Sh5 million in damages in addition to any money due after accounting for the alleged illegal sale of his songs through promotions.

Safaricom denied the copyright charges, saying it signed a Content Provision Agreement with Interactive Media Services and Liberty Afrika Technologies, which are licensed by MCSK. The firm maintains that payments linked to downloads of Mr Maina’s music were made to Liberty Afrika.

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