UCC, URSB engage broadcasters on piracy and copyright breaches . 

KAMPALA: 04-05-2022 – Intellectual property regulator Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) in partnership with Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), has warned the public against piracy and breach of content, a rapidly growing vice in the country. This was during a broadcasters’ copyright workshop where different industry players were cautioned and informed about their rights and obligations regarding the copyright system.

Speaking at the open dialogue, Mercy K. Kainobwisho, the Registrar General, Uganda Registration Services Bureau said, “Copyright not only imposes an obligation on broadcasters to seek authorization to broadcast content, but it also grants them rights and authorization in their broadcasts and the fixation of their programs.” 

Kainobwisho noted that, “These rights are infringed upon especially where one broadcaster, without authorization, shows another broadcaster’s content, a practice which has become prevalent in the industry. It also infringes on the rights that are given through an exclusive license to a broadcaster to show copyright content. Such acts of piracy continuously undermine the creative industry and deny content owners and authorized users to receive adequate remuneration from their activities.”

URSB has held several engagements with UCC regarding compliance to the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act 2006 and the Uganda Communications Act, and best strategies for both agencies to achieve their respective mandates.

Meddie Kaggwa, the UCC Head Multimedia highlighted that: “In partnership with URSB and other stakeholders, we have continuously emphasized the need to support independent producers and encouraged sector players to look at the creative sector as a creative economy. The creators of the content need to earn from it, hence the need to protect their work from any competition or piracy.”

UCC recently wrote to television stations following complaints that they were broadcasting copyrighted content without permission, in breach of the Copyrights and Neighboring Rights Act 2006.

According to Section 31 and Schedule 4(a)(v) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, all broadcast programmes must comply with relevant laws and regulations, including Regulation 21(c) of the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulations 2019, which requires all broadcasters to comply with the Copyrights and Neighboring Rights Act 2006 and the Industrial Property Act 2014.

MultiChoice Uganda’s Rhonah Nuwakunda, who spearheads the organization’s alignment in regulations recognized the need of gaining authorization to broadcast content. “The creative industry in Uganda has over the years needed regulations to not just govern them but also protect them. With this anti-piracy campaign, we hope to see a reduction in piracy and breach of intellectual property for the betterment of the industry and its beneficiaries.”

Christine Nagujja, the Head Public Relations Manager at StarTimes said that the biggest weakness Uganda has is not lack of laws but credible enforcement.

“We hope that through URSB and UCC such engagements will continue to ensure that all players know their rights and the outcomes in case we go overboard. That way even enforcement by the relevant bodies will be easier and more informed on both sides,” she added.

Miriam Nabatanzi, Head Compliance and Enforcement at URSB stated that currently a total of 58 cases have been prosecuted and are under investigation for the crimes of piracy and infringement of content and intellectual property. 

One of the success stories of the fight against piracy is the case of Uganda vs Kevin Owoko. Kevin was charged with a copyright infringement contrary to S.46 & S.47(1) of the copyright & neighboring rights act of 2006

The engagements are important to broadcasters as users and generators of intellectual property. URSB & UCC will use feedback for informed interventions particularly to address challenges affecting broadcasters in the copyright field.

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