SENSITIZING UGANDANS ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

By Paul Ndiho

Uganda’s entertainment industry is growing rapidly in popularity. But sometimes, there is limited awareness among artists, filmmakers, and producers on the importance of protecting their work and value of the intellectual property.

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The entertainment industry plays a role in giving a livelihood to many Ugandans, even in the face of challenges. Unfortunately, most entertainers say they are struggling to commercialize and earn money from their works.

A new start-up, a Kampala-based organization called “Intellectual Property”, wants to change that narrative. They’re going across the country to teach people in the entertainment industry how to protect and profit from their intellectual creations.

“We’ve been trying to sensitize the filmmakers and the musician into grasping the main aspect of the copyright law. Wherein they should know their rights and how they should commercialize and earn forever from their types of music and works they’ve created in film and other creations in the industry.”

Mbabazi says that his organization has hit the ground running and so far they’re getting a lot of attention in the entertainment industry.

“Ugandans have a lot of potentials. We’ve had songs which have gone up the African level they’ve hit charts, we’ve had songs that have had collaboration with international stars, and we believe that sort of information and works should be protected and given all it’s due.”

Intellectual property experts say the most significant obstruction to I-P growth for entertainers in Uganda seems to be a lack of knowledge on how to protect their work.

“Musician for example, only make money through shows. And that’s the only way they know how they think their shows will attract fans and through distributing Music freely. Once they do that, they’re beginning to close the gaps of copyright protection because they’re doing the infringement by themselves and that’s where the challenge is.”

Despite challenges, Mbabazi says they’ve had some success. For example, his organization represented Bobi Wine; a Ugandan pop star turned-lawmaker, settle out of court after Uganda’s electoral commission used one of his songs during the campaigns in 2016 without his authorization.

“Bobi Wine is a client of ours. He wrote a song saying that elections should not be a cause for division and the electoral commission used the song during the campaigns in 2016 without his authorization. Through Court, we litigated part of the matter and settled out of court, and he got some compensation.”

Still, industry analysts say Ugandans are yet to harness the true potential of their intellectual property and only a handful know about copyright, trademark and patent infringement. But the government is making significant advances in strengthening the administration and management of intellectual property rights — including parliament enacting significant IP legislation.

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