Efficacy of Uganda’s copyright laws in combating music piracy
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Copyright is the right granted to an individual to protect his skills and efforts in producing some work such as a book, song or picture. What is protected is the creativity in the choice and arrangement of words, musical notes, colours, shapes, to mention but a few. Copyright protects the owner of the property right against those who copy or otherwise use the form expressed by the author. A music copyright gives the author exclusive rights to control the publication, distribution of copies, public performance for payment or broadcasting the whole or sections of the work in the author’s country or abroad. Those are termed as the ‘economic rights’ of the author. It is unlawful to use copyrighted musical work without the copyright owner’s consent. This thesis examines the provisions of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, 2006 that protect music copyright. It also unveils ways that are used to pirate music in Uganda and the reasons advanced for the piracy. The problems encountered by music copyright owners in enforcing their rights are also discussed. The provisions, policies and practices of Uganda’s copyright laws, enforcement bodies and institutions relating to music business are critically analysed pointing out their weaknesses and making proposals for reform. The conclusion reached by the author is that copyright laws alone cannot combat music piracy. Enforcement bodies and institutions such as the Uganda Police, Broadcasting Council, Collecting Societies, Courts of Judicature and all stakeholders should join the move and fight the piracy plague. Government agencies should assign particular officers to deal with copyright issues or cases. This means establishing special sections in the Police, Uganda Revenue Authority and the Court system to deal with copyright cases without delay. The proposed areas for reform include keeping abreast of international developments, sensitization of the public, strengthening the enforcement provisions, encouraging musicians to cooperate with collecting societies, establishment of specialized institutions to deal with copyright matters and ensuring that stakeholders obtain some payment from the manufacturers and importers of blank tapes for recording sounds and images.