Madison_Stevens_Uganda_3-2_wg9njzIn Uganda today, authors of literary works as well as musicians (and all other holders of copyright and related rights) are very vulnerable to economic exploitation by users, in spite of the new Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act.

This susceptibility is a result of a long history of non-enforcement of Copyright, creating the impression that copyright is NOT a protectable property, and infringement a “legitimate” way to promote Authors.

Is Uganda’s Music Safe A Special Report on Piracy in Uganda’s Music Industry (Part I)

Rights owners, particularly in the music sub-sector, tend to believe that broadcasters are doing them a favour to play their music – kind of advertising and promoting them; and unauthorised CD burners – helping to distribute their music works.

Whereas these arguments may have some credence, the irony is that the unauthorised users make lots of money out of the works without remunerating the creator! Therein lies the unfairness.

There is also the problem of the difficulty of adapting to the “new times” by the Rights owners. The “new times” include: separation of roles in the production of a copyright protected work; identification of who holds which Right; appreciation of copyright as an asset; understanding the concept of collective management; and understanding the concepts of assignment and licensing etc.

Today, authors and composers are more into self-producing; self-management; self-marketing; self-everything! In other words, there is organisational apathy and self-isolation among Rights owners.

Besides, there is an apparent conflict of interests between “serious” Authors and “unserious and/or upcoming” Authors and composers. In spite of the fact that the end objective of all is to make a living from their creations, they never see eye to eye on how to realise that income!

In a nutshell therefore, these contradictions, on the part of the Authors, just play in the hands of the users – who are actually making a fortune through photocopying entire books or even reproducing them, and the illicit reproduction and distribution of audio and audio-visual works, with impunity. Hence the economic vulnerability of the Author.

Essence of Collective Management

Collective Management of Rights is meant to enforce the Rights for the Economic and Social gains of the Author; to create a balance between the user’s and the Author’s Rights; to empower the Author through Collective Bargaining; to play a leading role in the preservation of National and Cultural identity through the protection of the Rights; to provide Social Security of the Author through sustainable revenue collection and through the provident fund; etc.

It is practically impossible for any Copyright holder to individually administer her work. This is so because of the rapidly changing world in terms of technology. Imagine an individual monitoring the hundreds of thousands of photocopying shops in Uganda to ensure that she claims her royalties from those who have photocopied her books; or a musician chasing the hundreds of Broadcasters in Uganda to collect her royalties – and thereafter, worldwide!