Copyright experts from at least 20 African nations, including Uganda are currently negotiating possible ways through which member countries can collectively consolidate creative works and innovation for the benefits of the brains behind the ingenuity–creativity.
In Uganda, disputes pertaining musical and inventions’ ownerships have recently generated intense debate with some ending up in courts of law.
The week-long conference started August 20 in Kampala seeks “to establish a command center which will among other things facilitate enforcement of rights, thereby reducing situations resulting into acrimonious relationship between or even amongst authors, musicians and inventors questioning their creative works.”
In several African countries, utilization of copyright, a right granted to authors and owners of literary, musical and artistic works, remains badly wanting yet it is the most abundant form of intellectual property especially amongst the 20 African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) Member States.
According to ARIPO Director General, Mr Bemanya Twebaze, the ongoing Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of the ARIPO Protocol on Voluntary Registration of Copyright and Related Rights in Kampala, “marks the beginning of an end to the prevalent gaps bedeviling coherent copyright protection across the continent of Africa.”
A protocol on voluntary registration of copyright and related rights is expected to be negotiated by the experts by the end of the conference, paving way for its adaptation and signing.
That activity will be done by the council of ministers as a climax of the high-level diplomatic conference.
In his speech at the conference’s launch on Friday last week, the Attorney General, Mr Kiryowa Kiwanuka noted that registration of copyright works is a rare practice among authors and owners of literary and artistic works, largely as a result of lack of knowledge about copyright as well as due to laxity to register already protected work.
However, he stressed the need for voluntary registration of copyright works, an agenda that is the main gist of this year’s conference.
“Although not mandatory, voluntary registration is necessary in enforcing copyright protection, and because of that, it is something we desire for our citizens as it also allows one to maximize full benefits attached to their intellectual property rights,” says the new Attorney General in his maiden public speech following his recent appointment.
Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) registrar general, Ms Mercy Kainobwisho, said: “Once the Regional Voluntary Registration of Copyright and Related Rights is established, setting stage for creation and maintenance of a Regional Database for Copyright and Related Rights for the ARIPO Member States, creators of unique works will be the sole winners.”
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According to her, some benefits of the aforementioned include providing effective means of presumption as to authorship or ownership, facilitating commercialization, stimulating more creativity, expanding markets, attracting foreign direct investment and facilitating the enforcement of rights.
The current member countries of ARIPO are: Botswana, Kingdom of Eswatini, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Kingdom of Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.