Private Prosecutor Can Appear as Witness in Same Criminal Copyright Suit: Case of Albert Gacheru Kiarie and Wamaitu Productions

A recent judgment by the High Court in the case of Albert Gacheru Kiarie T/A Wamaitu Productions v James Maina Munene & 7 others [2016] eKLR is likely to have profound ramifications for the enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights in Kenya. At the heart of this case is a catalogue of widely popular vernacular songs such as “Mariru (Mwendwa Wakwa Mariru)” which is featured in the video above by Gacheru and produced by the latter’s company, Wamaitu.

According to Gacheru, his music and those of other rights holders he was involved with through his Wamaitu label have all been the subject of piracy and copyright infringement for many years. From 2004, Gacheru was the complainant in a criminal copyright infringement case (Criminal Case No. PP 06 of 2004) and was later granted permission to privately prosecute the case but he was then barred from continuing to undertake the private prosecution for the reason that he intended to serve as a witness in the same case. Gacheru appealed this decision insisting that he should be allowed to act as private prosecutor and witness in his case. The present judgment settles this 12 year old dispute on this matter.

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Copyright and Law of Succession: High Court Suspends Payments of Les Wanyika Royalties

 

This blogger has come across the recently reported case of Sijali Salum Zuwa & 4 others v Pamela Akinyi Atieno [2016] eKLR involving a dispute over authorship and ownership of several musical works attributed to the legendary band, Les Wanyika. From 1978 to date, several founding band members have died namely Omar ‘Professor’ Shaban, Issa Juma, Mohamed Tika, John Ngereza and Foni Mkwanyule.The surviving members of the band filed suit in the High Court challenging a grant of letters of administration obtained by Pamela Akinyi, the widow of Shabani over her late husband’s estate including some forty eight (48) songs by Les Wanyika. One such song is “Pamela” (captured in the video at the start of this post) written by Shabani and dedicated to Pamela, who is the defendant in the present suit.
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