Court Orders Equity To Pay Student Millions Over ‘Wings to Fly’ Song

October 27, 2022

The High Court in Nairobi has awarded a University student at least Ksh5 million following a decade-long intellectual property battle with Equity Bank.

Eric Obiero Nyadida, 22, sued the lender for using a song he composed in Form Two to promote the ‘Wings to Fly’ programme without paying him.

Nyadida told the court that he wrote the song in May 2013 and registered it at the Music Copyright Society together with other songs, “Running”, and “Flame Docks”.

He said Equity Bank approached him with a proposal to publicise its education programme. He billed the bank Ksh10 million for the song but the bank offered a scholarship instead, which his parents rejected.

“I was in form two at Maranda High School. I went and recorded the song and gave it to Equity through my manager. I had signed a contract through they were to pay me KSh 10 million but they didn’t pay,” said Nyadida.

The songwriter said Equity pulled out of the deal and allegedly caused his arrest. He was then charged with forgery together with his brother for pursuing his rights from the bank. The case was terminated three years later.

The bank, through Edward Muchai, admitted that he met Nyadida in 2013 when he came to his office with music on a CD that he wanted him to listen to.

Muchai claimed Nyadida’s song was not an original song but an extraction of the “Reunion” song, which can be found online.

Nyadida said the song was recorded at Homeboyz studio and his manager John Kennedy secured the deal to create the original piece for the lender’s Wings to Fly programme.

In his ruling, High Court Judge Wilfrida Okwany directed Equity to pay Nyadida Ksh5 million for the illegal use of his intellectual property.

“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 noted.

She also directed the lender, together with the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and the police, to pay him Ksh250,000 for malicious prosecution.

“The court awarded him KSh 5 million as compensation and also ordered Equity Bank and all the parties to pay him KSh250,000 each for damages and also to pay costs of the case with interest,” said Moses Omondi from Khaminwa and Khaminwa Advocates representing Nyadida.

Justice Okwany added that Nyadida proved that Equity 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 lender, which through its programme promotes the education of bright needy students, chose to treat Nyadida, who was a student, in such a cruel manner.

Nyadida took to social media Tuesday, October 25 to celebrate the ruling.

“After a decade long battle in the courts together with my lawyers Khaminwa & Khaminwa Advocates, I have been vindicated twice by the courts. I thank God for allowing justice to prevail. Attached is my statement,” he tweeted.

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