Nonini wins copyright case against Syinix and Brian Mutinda, awarded KES 1 million
Hip hop artiste Hubert Nakitare, popularly known as Nonini, has won a legal battle against Japanese company Syinix electronics and influencer Brian Mutinda for using his song without permission, setting a major precedent in the Kenya influencer economy.
The defendants were ordered by the Milimani Law Courts on Thursday to pay Nonini KES 1 million in general damages for infringing his copyright.
Nonini’s lawyer David Katee also confirmed to NTV that Syinix and Mutinda were ordered to remove the infringing content from all of their platforms, pay the cost of suit, and pay interest at the court’s rate.
Katee expressed his delight at their victory and cautioned influencers to be extremely careful and seek advice on copyright issues to avoid similar pitfalls.
“Intellectual property is property like any other. The same way you cannot trespass on someone’s land, is the same way you cannot use someone’s intellectual property without their permission. So copyrights and any other intellectual property must be respected,” Katee said.
The case stemmed from a video that Mutinda posted on his Instagram page in April 2022, promoting a new flat screen TV from Syinix.
The video featured Nonini’s hit song “We Kamu”, which was synchronized with the visuals without a license from the artiste. The same video was also posted on Syinix’s verified Facebook page.
In July 2022, Nonini had written to the Mutinda and Syinix demanding compensation and an apology. He also shared the court documents on his social media pages, alerting his fans of the legal action.
However, the defendants did not comply with his request, prompting Nonini to file a lawsuit through his lawyers in August 2022.
Syinix, on the other hand, denied making any video that infringed on Nonini’s copyright and claimed that it was unaware of any rights associated with the song.
However, the company expressed interest in discussing the possibility of issuing a “We Kamu” synchronization license to Nonini.
Nonini is regarded as one of the pioneers of Kenyan urban music and the godfather of genge. He has released several albums and collaborated with local and regional artistes. He is also the founder of P-Unit (Pro-Habo Unit), a rap group that has won several awards.