Equity ordered to pay student Sh5m for illegally using his song in 'Wings to Fly'

Equity Bank

Equity Bank branch on Muindi Mbingu Street in Nairobi on April 1, 2021.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Equity Bank has been ordered to pay a student Sh5 million for the illegal use of his intellectual property – a song he composed in 2013.

Apart from paying Mr Edwin Obiero Nyadida for the illegal use of his musical work, Justice Wilfrida Okwany directed the lender, together with the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and the police, to pay him Sh250,000 for malicious prosecution.

Mr Nyadida said he was dragged to court and charged with forgery for pursuing his rights from the lender. The case was terminated three years later.

The bank used Mr Nyadida’s song to advertise its “Wings to Fly” programme, which provides education sponsorship for bright but needy children.

“This court had a chance to listen to the petitioner’s music ‘Wings to Fly’ when the same was played in court during the hearing. I noted that there was a striking similarity between the said song and the one used by the bank in advertising its programme, also dubbed ‘Wings to Fly’,” the judge said.

Justice Okwany added that Mr Nyadida proved that the lender used and has been using the music that he created without his consent and without paying him for it, thus breaching his intellectual property rights.

She said it was ironic for the bank, which through its programme, promotes the education of bright needy students but chose to treat Mr Nyadida, who was a student, in such a cruel manner.

Mr Nyadida told the court that he created the song in May 2013 and registered it at the Music Copyright Society together with other songs.

He told the court that Equity approached him with a proposal to publicise its education programme after which he composed the song. He was then a high school student.

According to Mr Nyadida, he demanded Sh10 million for the work after the bank liked the song. The bank, instead, offered to give him a scholarship but his parents rejected the offer and chose the money.

The bank, he said, pulled out of the deal and allegedly caused his arrest. He was then charged with forgery together with his brother.

The bank, through Edward Muchai, admitted that he met him sometime in 2013 when he came to his office with music on a CD that he wanted him to listen to. Mr Muchai said Mr Nyadida’s song was not an original song but an extraction of the “Reunion” song, which can be found online.


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