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Creative talents learn copyright management best practices

Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) in partnership with World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) organized a two-day training workshop on ‘collective management operations and licensing practices’ at Protea hotel on February 8 and 9, 2024.

The hybrid workshop included musicians, authors, publishers, producers, comedians, academia and collective management organisations.
Mercy Kainobwisho, the registrar general of URSB, said contrary to what many people say that there are no copyright laws in Uganda, the country has the best laws, the institutional framework and a peaceful political environment.

“We have moved a long journey. There is no room for excuse, because we now have the laws, the requisite human resource and the online and offline technologies for enforcement. For ten years now, Uganda as a government uses one-stop models,” she said.

She added that the bureau will soon create a separate department for copyright and neighbouring rights issues. She stressed that the current copyright law is robust and good enough; the main problem may be limited dissemination. Uganda has the National Intellectual Property Policy 2019, the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act 2006, and the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Regulations 2010, among other relevant legal instruments.

She said a communication strategy has been evolved to simplify the difficult legal terminology, bring in flexibility and accommodation of
all stakeholders. Then there is an ongoing legal reform exercise in the area of intellectual property, which has, among others, engaged a Nigerian consultant Dr Chinedu Chukwuji.

The reform will also include writing of a manual and regulations for collective management organisations (CMOs). Trainers from WIPO and many international federations of CMOs imparted a lot of knowledge to participants and answered several questions from participants.

Ugandan copyright CMOs present at the workshop included Uganda Reproductive Rights Organisation (URRO), which represents authors and publishers; Uganda Federation of Movie Industry (UFMI), which organizes talents in film industry; and Uganda Performing Right Society (UPRS), which represents musicians. The three announced their forthcoming annual general meetings due on March 28, 2024, March 21, 2024 and March 27, 2024, respectively.

CMOs LEGAL MANDATE

These three duly registered CMOs, with respective websites, carry the legal mandate of representing their respective talents or creators to license users of creative works and collect royalties on behalf of the creators and distribute them to the creators.

CMOs also engage in fighting piracy and other forms of copyright infringement. They also arrive at agreements with related CMOs in other countries or subscribe to international federations. However, they should not engage in any form of production such as publishing.

Tutors repeatedly emphasized that collective management organisations exist solely to serve their members, rather than to become parasitic bureaucracies; they are accountable to both members and users of their products.

After subtracting a small fraction for administrative costs, the largest volume of collected revenues should be distributed to members, and the distribution should be fair, reflecting the corresponding input of the different creators.

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