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Copyright battle: Nyashinski in hot water, fails to produce Tecno contract and is unreachable

The court is set to issue a ruling in a copyright infringement case where celebrated artiste Nyamari “Nyashinski” Ongegu was sued by Nigerian music producer Sam Are Eliapenda over a multi-million endorsement deal he signed with Tecno Kenya Limited in May 2023.

Magistrate Selina Muchungi said she would make a ruling on the matter on June 10 after Nyashinski once again failed to produce the brand ambassadorial contract he signed with Tecno as directed by the court.

The content of the contract has become a bone of contention since Sam Are announced his intention to sue Nyashinski last year, accusing the famous rapper of using the hit song “Wach Wach”, which he produced, to advertise, promote and endorse Tecno Camon 20 without obtaining his consent or at least compensating him.

Sam Are and Nyashinski each own 50 per cent of the publishing rights to “Wach Wach”, but the rapper owns 100 per cent of the master rights to the record.

Based on the split of publishing rights, Sam Are argues in court papers that he is entitled to a percentage of the millions made from the endorsement deal, but Nyashinski hasn’t been cooperative.

In February this year, Magistrate Muchungi directed Nyashinski to provide the court with the contract before the next mention of the case on March 13.

But when the matter came up in March, Nyashinski’s lawyers, Humphrey & Co. Advocates told the court they couldn’t produce the agreement.

“The brand ambassador agreement is subject to a non-disclosure agreement, a confidential agreement which we cannot produce in court,” Nyashinski’s lawyers argued.

Magistrate Muchungi then issued a new directive to Nyashinski’s legal team to produce the agreement within 14 days.

“The 1st respondent to comply and serve the documents within 14 days, the mention will be on April 12, 2023, after 21 days,” Magistrate Muchungi directed.

When the case came up for its third mention last month, Nyashinski’s legal team hadn’t yet produced the contract.

Representing the rapper, his lawyer, Eddie Omondi, argued that they could not produce the contract because there was no written application before the court from the plaintiff, Sam Are, formally requesting the same and giving reasons why he needed the confidentiality agreement.

“Your Honour, it is indeed true that we have not been able to produce the said document. The plaintiff must show cause as to why he needs us to disclose a document that is covered by a non-disclosure agreement,” Omondi argued.

In a fresh directive, the magistrate instructed David Katee, appearing for Sam Are, to apply formally.

Nyashinski’s legal team was directed to file a response to the application before the next hearing date set for May 6.

By Monday, May 6, when the matter came up for mention, Nyashinski’s legal representatives had again failed to file a response and produce the contract despite Sam Are’s lawyer having served them with the application.

Nyashinski’s lawyers told the court they couldn’t produce the contract because their client, Nyashinski, was unavailable.

However, the magistrate denied the request and ordered Nyashinski’s team to file a response to Sam Are’s application and ordered both parties to file their submissions by June 10, when the matter will be mentioned to confirm compliance and a ruling date will be set.

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