World Intellectual Property Organisation asks Uganda to ratify Copyright Treaties

Uganda begins process to join the international copyright system to provide protection for artists and authors

Uganda has began a process to ratify four copyright treaties; the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886); The WIPO copyright treaty (WCT) 1996; The WIPO performances and phonograms treaty (WPPT) (1996) and The Beijing Treaty on Audio-visual Performances (2012).

Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) held a 2-day high-level stakeholder’s meeting to consult all the relevant Ministries, Departments, Agencies and stakeholders to seek their views about the treaties.

The objective of ratifying the treaties is to provide Ugandan creators with protection across various countries, which are members of the treaties so that they are able to collect remuneration in all those countries in the same way they do here at home.

Speaking at the event, Uganda’s Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana said Uganda is committed to the ratification of the treaties but it is faced with a challenge of inadequate resources since the process has to go through parliament.

“We shall ensure that the treaties are ratified due to the benefits associated with them like Creation of jobs especially for the youth, Promotion of the exportation of creative products and attracting Foreign Direct Investments. It, therefore, becomes imperative to provide a conducive legal and policy framework that will help us to achieve these and other objectives,” said Rukutana.

The Deputy Registrar General of Uganda Registration Services Bureau, Jane Okot P, Bitek Langoya explained that by ratifying the treaties, it will help Uganda to harmonize the country’s copyright Laws with the International minimum standards .

Why the treaties are necessary to Uganda? To put this into perspective, under our Copyright and Neighbouring rights Act 2006, If X a Ugandan national posts his video on YouTube, Y can be penalized for down loading the video and burning it onto DVD’s for sale in Uganda without X’s permission.

The same protection is however not given if C who is in another country does the same and sells his DVD’s in that country because the laws of Uganda only affect actions taken within Uganda. With the ratification of the treaties however, protection will be available to Ugandans in all countries that are signatories to the Treaties so that they can get due compensation for use of their works in all those countries.

About the Treaties;

The Berne Convention is the most fundamental element of the international structure of copyright conventions with 176 members, which ensures that works such as books movies, or musical works enjoy protection outside their country of origin. Once ratified, Ugandan authors will have the protection in the 176 members. This will enable them to be remunerated in all those countries and it will greatly enhance the income from their works.

The WCT and the WPPT deal with the protection of works and the rights of their authors in the digital environment by providing a framework for creators and rights owners to protect their works on the internet. When ratified, Ugandans will be able to earn from the use of their creative content in the digital environment in all member countries and this will enhance their earnings from activities like, streaming, downloading and rental across all countries, which are members.

The Beijing Treaty on Audio-visual Performances deals with the rights of performers in audio-visual performances. It grants performers economic rights for their performances fixed in audio-visual fixations and will strengthen the protection of Ugandan performers, abroad and over the internet by requiring remuneration for fixation, use and distribution of audio-visual content even over the Internet.

Providing a supportive environment for copyright protection in the digital environment will act as an incentive to motivate creativity and contribute to the development of a vibrant creative economy and cultural landscape in Uganda.