A farmer is Ushs150m richer after a bank in town used her photo to advertise its business.
The bank didn’t seek prior permission from the farmer before using her photo in commercial adverts.
And now a judge in town has found the bank at fault for doing so. Justice Henry Peter Adonyo sitting at the commercial section of the High court has accordingly ordered the Opportunity bank to dish out a total of Ushs150m to Winnie Asege.
Giving her testimony, Asege told court that she is a successful commercial farmer based in Soroti District and she operates under the name of Dakabela Rural Women Development Association of which she was chairperson.
According to her, it all started in 2013 when she sighted her image pasted on huge bill boards run by the bank in which she was shown to be heartily laughing and holding a bountiful harvest of oranges in her hands. The billboard bore the aption “Save for your success with the Agro Save Account’’.
In addition to those huge billboards, the banks produced advertising flyers, brochures and calendars bearing similar images of the plaintiff as those depicted in the huge billboards.
The bank had liberally distributed these articles to its branches country wide, Asege told the judge.
She complained how these productions were never commissioned, assigned, licensed nor did the bank seek her consent before taking her photograph and her image as well as pasting the same on the said bill boards and such other publications.
Accordingly, the farmer faulted the bank for obtaining her photos and images without authority and for going on to grossly misuse and unjustifiably publishing her private information. She said what the bank did amounted to to an invasion on her constitutional right to privacy.
Asege told court that owing to the defendant’s unauthorized use of her image, she suffered substantial damages for which she sought court damages from the bank.
Maad Limited, an advertising company, was added as a third party in these matters after it was stated that it was an agent for the bank.
Defending itself, the bank heaped all the blame on the advertising agency, saying it is the one it paid to develop an adevert in 2011 for its Agro Save product.
The bank claimed how Maad lawfully purchased all the photographs used in the advertisement materials from an internet based website known as Shutter Stock Inc and from the New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Limited.
As such, the bank alleged there is no way the farmer could claim the photos in the advert to have been acquired unlawfully.
In his ruling, Justice Henry Peter Adonyo said he had assessed the farmer’s case and weigned it against that of the defense party and found one of the farmer to be one which is credible.
“They acted without thought and remained adamant throughout these proceedings and showed no sign of remorse for their actions,” Adonyo slammed the bank and the advertiser.
The judge ruled that for behaving the way they did, the bank and the advertiser had to be reprimanded by paying a total of Ushs20m to the farmer.
Lucky was Asege, the judge ordered the bank to give her 5% of the income derived from use of her photo. The judge directed that the income be assessed and directed the bank to give full cooperation to the assessors.
Such royalty earnings to Asege will come with an enhanced interest of 20% calculated on a yearly basis from 2011 when the photo first appeared.
She will also be paid a total of Ushs80m for abusing her privacy with the bank and the advertiser each contributing half of the compensation.
Plus a total of Ushs70m in both general and aggravated damages with an added 6% intest per year effective the date of judgment.
The bank will also have to refund money the farmer has spent on pursuing justice in courts of law.