MUNYONYO – Uganda is hosting a 7-day African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) Diplomatic Conference for the adoption of a draft protocol on voluntary registration and notification of copyright and related rights.
The ongoing conference at Speke Resort Hotel, Munyonyo is organised by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB).
Welcoming the delegates to the experts meeting, URSB Registrar General, Ms. Mercy Kainobwisho said that copyright law seeks to protect the rights of authors and owners in their literary, artistic, musical or dramatic works, among others.
She says such works have to be a product of one’s labor, skill and effort to be considered as original and therefore capable of copyright protection.
“Considering the gist of this conference, it should be noted that copyright protection is not dependent upon registration. Protection is automatic once the work is reduced into material form. Registration, therefore, does not confer protection upon one’s work, but rather enforces it. In this regard, I envision a land owner with a beautiful bungalow on it, but without a fence around it,” she said.
“The bungalow in this scenario depicts the works capable of copyright protection by an author or owner. Leaving this beautiful bungalow without a fence or security means exposing it to all sorts of attacks from predators,” she added.
The Registrar General said that the same applies to copyrightable works, which, when left without protection, are exposed to predators that threaten the rights of the author or owner.
“The wall fence around the house means that the owner is proactive and vigilant about his/her security and that of his property. In the same way, registration of copyright signifies that the author or owner is proactive and vigilant about protecting his/her rights. It is for this reason that voluntary registration of copyrightable works is encouraged as it acts as the wall fence around the copyrightable works.”
Ms. Kainobwisho says copyright protection is not subject to formalities such as registration.
“However, at URSB, we have been encouraging voluntary registration of copyrights and the law dictates regulations to be followed when doing the same. The purpose for this registration is to give the author or owner of such works security over the same, especially when it comes to proving evidence of authorship or ownership. Such benefits of registration are extremely vital especially vital in the digital environment we are all part of, which is characterized by the rebroadcasting of copyrightable works. A national registry of copyrighted works is also beneficial for any country especially in determining the level of creativity of its citizens and determining any interventions that may need to be made regarding the protection of such works,” she said.
She noted that at URSB, the voluntary registration of copyrightable works costs an applicant UGX 50,000 (about USD 13).
“However, few people are aware of this service which has left many of their works exposed to unauthorized manipulation, distribution and infringement. The lack of registration has also cost some authors and owners of copyrightable works expensive court cases, which could have been avoided if registration with URSB was effected.”