Law on copyrights set to be Strengthened

On Wednesday afternoon, Mawokota North Member of Parliament, Hon. Hillary Innocent Kiyaga was granted leave of Parliament to introduce a bill titled, The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights (Amendment) Bill.

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The private member’s bill seeks to recognize and protect the rights of a composer of literary, artistic, scientific and intellectual works cognizant that the law as it is, assigns such rights to producers. Kiyaga sought leave of the House during the plenary sitting of Wednesday, 30 July 2022 chaired by Speaker Anita Among. Kiyaga said that the current Copyright and Neighbouring Act does not grant due benefits to originators of works, a trend he wishes to cure in the new bill.

“As an artist, I know you are fed up seeing musicians on the streets as beggars; it is because their works are not protected. It is therefore, the duty of this House to protect their works”, said Kiyaga.

The bill proposes penalties and sanctions on infringement on copy right works, a task, Kiyaga said has proved tedious and unattainable for most authors. Kiyaga noted that with passage of time, some aspects of the Copyright and Neighbouring Act have become outdated, necessitating the amendment. “In light of advances in technology and emerging practices, there is an increase in the nature of copy right works that can be protected and infringed on”, he said.

Workers Representative, Hon. Abdul Byakatonda who seconded the motion said the amendment is timely saying, ‘the industry it seeks to regulate is a potential foreign exchange earner’. “This is the industry which is very attractive to everyone but in Uganda, you find the holder of copy right is miserable when their rights are reproduced and sold elsewhere,” said Byakatonda. He cited international good practices where authors of works in countries such as the United States are granted rights over their works for 20 years.

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Hon. Rachel Magoola

Bugweri District Woman MP, Hon. Rachel Magoola said the bill will streamline works that qualify for copyright protection including political speeches, interviews and speeches delivered during judicial proceedings.

 “The new bill will establish a register of copyrights and empower the registrar to impose administrative penalties for infringement on copy right works and settle disputes,” Magoola said.

The proposed legislation will attract revenue from ring back tunes and devices used in reproduction of protected copyright works. With this entire development, Charles Batambuze, the Vice Chairperson of National Culture Forum, an apex body for all Associations in the Arts and culture sector had this to say,

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Mr Charles Batambuze – Vice Chairperson, National Culture Forum

“The amendment bill is a very welcome development. It comes in at a time when digital technologies are the main influencers of how creative content is created, distributed, and consumed. As such, the key reforms needed to expand the scope of royalty streams include providing a private copy levy on gadgets used in the exploitation of works; streamlining the CRBTs revenue sharing model in favour of artists, and providing for an extended collective mandate to empower CMOs in royalty collections.”

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