Copyright law grants authors, artists and other creators protection for their literary and artistic creations, generally referred to as “works”. The kind of works protected by copyright include, but not limited to; literary and artistic works such as; novels, poems, plays, newspapers, adverts, films, musical compositions, choreography, paintings,drawings, photographs, sculptures and architecture, maps, technical drawings and Computer software, programs and databases.

The expression authors’ rights refer to the creator of an artistic work, its author, thus underlining that, as recognized in most laws, authors have certain specific rights in their creations that only they can exercise, which are often referred to as moral rights, such as the right to prevent distorted reproductions of the work. Other rights, such as the right to make copies, can be exercised by third parties with the author’s permission, for example, by a publisher who obtains a license to this effect from the author.

What is Copyright?

Copyright refers to protection granted to authors, artists and other creators for their literary and artistic creations, generally referred to as “works”.

The kind of works covered by copyright include

  • Literary and artistic works such as novels, poems, plays, reference works, newspapers, films, musical compositions, paintings, drawings, photographs, advertisements, maps and technical drawings
  • Sculptures and architecture
  • Computer programs, applications and databases

Copyright protection gives creators incentives in the form of recognition and fair economic rewards.

How is Copyright Protected?

A creative work is automatically protected by copyright after creation. The work must be original and fixed into tangible form. Works are protected irrespective of their merit but must not infringe another person’s work.

Procedure for Registration of Copyright

Step 1: An application for registration is made to the Registrar of Copyright and an application fee of UGX. 50,000 paid. A copy of the work for which protection is sought must be attached e.g. Books, CD, DVD.
Step 2: The application is then published in the Uganda Gazette for 60 days.
Step 3: If no objection is made to the registration of the said right, a certificate of registration will be issued to the applicant. No fee is charged for registration certificate

How long does copyright protection last?

  • For Natural persons, Copyright is protected for the lifetime of the author and 50 years after his death.
  • For Corporations/ Companies, Copyrights is protected for 50 years after the date of the 1st publication.
  • Anonymous work or works of unknown authors, 50 years after.
  • Computer programs; 50 years after the program becomes available to the public.

Advantages of copyright protection

  • Proof of ownership and easier protection from infringement.
  • Maintenance of a Government record of copyright to assist the successors of the owner since copyright lasts 50 years after his death.
  • Encourages creativity through easy access to authors by users who pay remuneration for use.
  • Puts culture on record.

Management of Copyright through Collective Management Organisations CMO's

What are Collective Management Organizations (CMOs)?

CMO’s are Collective Management Organizations established by owners of Copyright to protect and enforce their economic rights. CMO’s have the following responsibilities among others;

  • License users of works
  • Collect revenue from users
  • Carry out public awareness
  • Act as agents for their Members
  • Pay royalties to their members
  • Make reciprocal arrangements with foreign management organizations

How do I become a member of a CMO?

You register as a member by signing the membership form from the CMO and licensing your CMO to pursue your economic rights in the works. In Uganda there are 3 CMO’s namely Uganda Reproductive Rights Organization (URRO) for literally works e.g. books, Uganda Federation of Movie Industry (UFMI) for audio visual works e.g. films and Uganda Performing Rights Society(UPRS) for musical works.

How does a member benefit from the CMOs?

Collective management means that owners of works can pursue their economic rights more efficiently and effectively as one group as opposed to one individual pursuing the same rights from multiple users.


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