Opposition MPs have begun engaging with stakeholders with a view to improving a Private Members Bill that seeks to amend the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2006.
The bill is sponsored by the Minister in the shadow of Culture and Performing Arts, also MP from North Mawokota, Hillary Innocent Kiyaga (NUP).
The first stakeholder meeting was held on Friday 23 September 2022 in Parliament under the chairmanship of the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LOP), Hon Mathias Mpuuga, and was attended by officials from the Ministry of Justice.
The proposed amendment seeks to close loopholes in the 2006 law to recognize and protect the rights of a composer of artistic work and streamline copyright registration, among others.
Registrar General Mercy Kainobwisho told the meeting that while her agency, URSB, acknowledges that there are gaps in existing law along with implementation challenges, there is no need for a Private Members Bill that her entity had already contracted for.
to the Uganda Law Reform Commission to process an amendment that would lead to the taming of international treaties on copyright and audiovisual performances.
“The provisions of this bill and the proposed amendments to the current law may parallel the steps the URSB is taking to amend the law,” she said.
However, her presentations were questioned by MPs Abdulhu Byakatonda (Ind., Workers), Geoffrey Kayemba Solo (NUP, Bukomansimbi South) and Kiyaga.
Her concerns were amplified by artists Hannington Bugingo (comedian) and Sylver Kyagulanyi of the Copyright Institute.
“We want this law to be modified in the areas of regulation, administration and protection.
The regulation is so pertinent because we already have an existing problem with [Uganda Communications Commission] UCC,” Kyagulanyi said in reference to the theater plays and public performance rules UCC announced in 2019.
“We creatives should be regulated, but what UCC is doing is displaying the gap in current law .
UCC is using a draconian law from 1964: the Public Entertainment and Theater Act which should be repealed.
UCC would be within their mandate if they try to regulate transmission but they are trying to [stretch their mandate] to the regulation of everything, including creativity and creative work,” he added.
Subsequently, the meeting agreed to harmonize the positions of the two parties and hold joint consultations so that the legislation is processed within the current fiscal year.
“With these very good proposals, if we don’t sit down and agree on the issues as we have heard them, [risk] talking about the 2022 law in the same way that we are talking about the 2006 law,” Biribonwoha said.