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The plight of artists and why technology could offer solutions

Aziz Azion performs during the annual music safari in Munyonyo. Artists and the government can earn more if the copyright law is fully enforced. Photo by EDGAR R. BATTE

When world musician Kaz Kasozi shared with friends that he had turned out an offer of Shs35m to make a score for a movie, many of them could not comprehend why he had let such a ‘golden’ opportunity go.

To them, it was good money yet to him, it was not enough to pull off a good job and practically speaking, it was not his worth for the work being asked for. He deserved more and felt that those asking to contract him for the musical project were giving him less because they knew the copyright law is not effective in Uganda and as such, the bargaining power of a musician is not as strong as that of another musician in a country where copyright structures are in place.

The conversation on copyright law continues to take centre stage as was the case during the recent ‘Performing Artists Conference’ under the theme ‘The Role of policy in protecting, promoting and preserving local content’ where artistes shared about the need for government to enforce the law because it stands to gain quite a lot.
Charles Batambuze, executive director of Uganda Reproduction Rights Organisation quotes the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which states that a record of USD 624 billion in 2015 was made by the cultural and creative industries worldwide which employed over 30 million people.

He is optimistic that much more can be made by government. “Our potential as artistes is enormous. On average, we could be losing close to US$200m in copyright infringement in terms of music, comedy, painting, sculptures and more,” Hannington Bugingo argues.
In absence of the copyright law, singer Toniks says the music industry will never reach even half of its potential. “It is evident that everywhere where copyright is rightly applied, the ripple gains are immense,” he observes.

Bugingo adds that with guidance from Dr. Anthony Kakooza, a lawyer familiar with the copyright law and policy, they are making headway in trying to have legal amendments to what he described as outdated sections of the law.
To Richard Kawesa, the presence of the preservation, promotion and protection of local content because such content derives from values which shape nations.

“The question therefore would be clear national values, if they existed, would have been the basis of government is not informed enough about the law and as such called on fellow artistes to adapt to technological platforms as one alternatives to earn off their artistic abilities and works.
rbatte@ug.nationmedia.com

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