By Samuel Mwesigwa
Government of Uganda in coordination with Uganda Registration Services Bureau, the National Intellectual Property Office and the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Office (ARIPO) based in Harare Zimbabwe will be hosting a series of meeting at Speke Resort Munyonyo which will culminate in the Adoption of a protocol on Voluntary registration of Copyright and notification of related rights from August 20th – 28th 2021.
Uganda has worked very closely with the regional intellectual property office – ARIPO through support provided in capacity building in the field of intellectual property and a number of Ugandans have benefited from the Masters in Intellectual Property programs managed by ARIPO.
Most recently, a Ugandan Mr.Bemanya Twebaze was appointed Director General having emerged the best candidate in a tight race and took over office in January 2021. Clearly, this is proof of commitment by the Government of Uganda in promotion of intellectual property rights not only in Uganda but globally.
The last conference of this nature hosted by Uganda was on November 2013 when Uganda hosted the ARIPO Diplomatic Conference and the ARIPO Council of Ministers. At this same conference, the Registrar General and Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs were elected as Chairs for the Administrative Council and Council of Ministers a position they held for one year.
The Copyright industry is very diverse involving works of literary and artistic nature.
Copyright protection in Uganda doesn’t require a right holder to register because
Protection is automatic once the work is produced in a tangible form. However, this in itself has many limitations. A number of rights holders have complained of pirating of their works and usually lose the morale to follow up on prosecuting those practicing this demoralizing act of piracy. A number of interventions have been undertaken by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau such as streamlining the industry and the role played by Collection Management Organizations; sensitizing and encouraging rights holders to voluntarily register their works; as well as the passing of the National
Intellectual Property whose implementation is currently ongoing under the coordination of URSB, it is very timely for Uganda to host this conference on copyright because the outlook is changing and the choices of employment are also different.
“Uganda has a young population that has devoted itself to the arts and creativity industry. Through adoption of this protocol, Ugandans shall be able to have their works registered and protected internationally, benefit and earn from their works, enable Government to maintain a register of voluntary copyrighted works which ultimately will lead to better appreciation of the role of the creative industry in promotion of socio economy development”. Deputy Attorney General/Ag.Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs said in a statement.
The regional voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights will also enhance cooperation between national copyright offices to achieve the Protocol’s purpose. The national registration systems often hold valuable information on creativity from legal and economic perspectives and provide statistics on authors, performers, right holders, and their works, recordings, and productions in their countries. The statistics are important to be included in the regional database thus contributing to the regional statistics on creative industries.
The ARIPO 20 Member States are Botswana, The Kingdom of Eswatini, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, The Kingdom of Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.