I WILL address Maurice Kirya’s post about the copyright law and President Yoweri Museveni’s dinner with artistes.

I have been a student of the copyright law since I started following the music industry in first year of high school. The problem is not Museveni and he is not the one to make sure the copyright law is enforced.

 Isabirye believes it takes more than just a dinner to implement the copyright law

Isabirye believes it takes more than just a dinner to implement the copyright law


Even if he made a declaration to the effect that police should follow up copyright violations it will take reporting by the violated to ensure that the law is enforced.


Even rape cannot be indicted if the victim does not report. The enforcement of copyright therefore should be by cases. Most laws get enforced after a few examples have demonstrated their enforcement.

Uganda has a copyright law. The copyright and neighboring rights act of 2006 an upgrade of the copyright act of 1964. Its provisions are adequate to enforce the law.


Even before I turned 20 I used to see artistes give deejays their music free of charge to circulate for them because the structures of distribution were absent.


Today I get sent so many songs on my Whatsapp line free of charge from artistes who ask me to circulate them to different stations or online. Yet that is inappropriate. Principally because the structures of distribution are absent.

I saw how James Wasula struggled to get music played or artistes to be paid for by stations while some artistes fought him.


Still because the structures of distribution were absent. The copyright law can be enforced if artistes cooperate with law enforcement agencies and specific cases of violation are reported and dealt with, then a precedent is sent.


In my assessment the industry does not think that is necessary just yet, because it is at the second stage of its five stage development. Suffice to note many radio stations now pay for music being played through the efforts of James Wasula.


If counterfeit products of coca cola are being distributed it is coca cola to first report before police takes action.

Otherwise the law enforcement agencies do not have such capacity at the moment to pursue anything although it is their responsibility and will need to do so in future. I will also argue that the Ugandan

music industry finds its copyright debate at the worst moment of record industry history where new technologies have broken down the structures of control.


In the whole world illegal distribution of music (through sharing) is rampant and not even the most efficient law enforcement jurisdictions have been able to curtail this.

As such record companies are now signing 360 degree contracts to make their money back from investment in artistes.in that type of contract they want a slice of your performance revenue, of your endorsement revenue as well as a bit of your record sales which have shrunk.


This is because copyright infringement (through illegal sharing or duplication) has cost the industry a fortune.


In practical terms the musicians should start by registering their works at the Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB) behind central police station (CPS) in Kampala.


It costs 50,000 Uganda shillings per song. Then a narrative and notated description of the song could be required. After this the artiste is expected to submit the song and its description to a public repository.


A place where the public is expected to find it if they are going to search for the existence of such a work in order not to violate it or in order to find its owner to ask for permission for use in cases such as educational or otherwise. That place should be a national archive (in Entebbe but which could shift to Kitante Road soon), the national broadcaster (Uganda Broadcasting Corporation), and a national educational institution (usually Makerere University in an archive or library).


Most musicians are not known to own the songs they record legally because there is not registration done for each song. Then they should set up a rights control committee. Then they should petition parliament. Then they should also start vigilante action.

A few cases over twelve months should set the enforcement of copyright back on track although there will be challenges.


Finally in the interim copyright infringement is diverse. It includes illegal sharing or duplication of music. But it also includes using elements of other people’s work without permission and roughly 70% of the Ugandan music industry releases can be traced to another song internationally or locally.


And for which artistes have not got permission but that it also one of the stages of development. Things do not get straightened out in one day.


After all I think Pharell Williams is also having issues with ‘blurred lines’ and ‘happy’ as it increasingly becomes apparent that he could have illegally used other people’s work to produce his.


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