The Uganda music revolution & what the music giants should do
By Kaweesa Hope
July 9th, 2023

There is a growing urge and raise of eyebrows by the musicians in Uganda and Africa to work tirelessly to create content but languish in poverty and others are beggars and fake life on social media to fit in their big brands. #WhisperEyeNews

Like other revolutions, labour Unions took long to achieve the success they have today amidst challenges but they've to date managed to scoop positions in world parliaments where they ably represent their views on the problems affecting them.

If a farmer went gardening and harvests less than anticipated it's either the wild birds and animals harvested for or on his behalf or it was just a bad season. In Uganda and other parts of the world, the entertainment hospitality industry continues to grow more because people are poor and want to forget their problems while others after they make billions and want to take off time to spend what the famous hit nature described in their hit song "Twazikoze zaweze"

The revolution has taken time since the 1990s when it was realized that Congolese were making a lot of money in Uganda and hence artists started mushrooming and waging war against Congolese music and foreign English music. The success of the first struggle saw the success of musicians like Elly Wamala and Philly Bongole Lutaya whose Born in Africa hit chats and his alone and infringed that sensitized millions on HIV Aids.

The journey continued until the shift from the Kadongo Kamu music that didn't sell that much in the year 2000 leading to the evolution of the big 3 (Jose Chameleon, Bebe Cool and his friend Bobi Wine) and I and J (Irene and Juliana Kanyomozi) and later the blue 3 and many others who brought life to the music industry again. Not forgetting the music Giants Ragga D,Mesach Semakula and Madox Ssematimba who paved a musical route to the Big 3 and other artists.

Currently, the music industry has over 12000 registered under the Uganda Musician Association led by Musician Cindy Sanyu with structures all over Uganda. This is the first success for me to have what seems to be a structure of course with lots of criticism and fights like any other developing organization.
The main purpose of these associations is many as there is to have a platform for all to Advocate for the rights of musicians and content creators who work tirelessly but eat using a toothpick from their sweat whereas tycoons and investors eat with a big spoon.

The voice of the musicians has not been heard by the government albeit their collaborations during campaigns and some musicians being voted as members of Parliament. Looking at the Copyright and neighbouring Rights Act 2006, the sole purpose was to provide for the protection of literacy scientific and intellectual works and their neighbouring rights which was a call by all member States of the WTO under Article XVI of the agreement and then to revise the copyright Act of 1953 to accommodate the reforms in the 21st century and I guess by then there was the usage of CDs and DVDs.

The now irrelevant Act that requires review provides what qualifies to be protected, how protected works may be exploited by third parties, the duration of the rights and creating offences of infringement of copyright and neighbouring rights. It is prudent that the Ugandan parliament enacts a new law to accommodate the developments in technology.

The revolution is not only in Uganda, our music friends in Nigeria are currently celebrating a win after the president assented to the Copyright Act 2023 on 17th March 2023 whereby section 1 outlines the principal object of the Law as to protect the rights of authors and ensure just rewards and recognition for their intellectual efforts and further enhance the Nigerian copyright commission for effective regulation, administration and enforcement.

The interesting part of their law is that it introduces a copyright levy payable on all materials used or capable of being used to infringe copyright in a work. This includes any object, equipment, machine or other devices including electronic or digital systems. This levy is paid into a fund administered by the Nigerian copyright commission and later disbursed to approved collective management organizations or Representatives of copyright owners.

Further, section 36 establishes copyright being infringed where; One imports or causes to be imported into Nigeria any copy of a work which if it had been made in Nigeria would be infringed, sells or offers for sale, makes or has in his possession, plates, master tapes, machines, equipment or contravance used for infringing copies of the work, permits a place of public entertainment or of a business to be used for a public performance of work and permits within its premises the products of a copyright work or performs or causes to be performed for purposes of trade or promotion of a trade or business any work in which copyright subsists.

Many other African countries are responding to the call including Rwanda under their Law No.31/2009 states that economic rights shall be protected during the lifetime of the author and for 50 years after his death. Uganda should ratify the Beijing treaty on Audiovisual performances and further implement the laws therein.

The involution of multiple associations including the recently registered Uganda Musician Federation led by the music giant and BET award winner Eddie Kenzo has seen musicians more United this time for a common cause, I'm very confident that K&K associates that they contracted as their official legal representation will do great work in collaboration with the AG chambers and the Uganda law reform commission in ensuring that every demand by the musicians is discussed and captured in the new law after thorough consultation with the relevant authorities, international bodies and benchmark with our colleagues in Nigeria and the US.

Nzaghale Benard Kelly, Lawyer and Intellectual property Activist

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