A cross section of musicians seated in the public gallery following proceedings of the House on Wednesday, 04 October 2023
Musicians under their umbrella body, the Ugandan National Musicians Federation have petitioned Parliament, calling for expeditious amendment of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, 2006.
In their petition presented by Hon. Phiona Nyamutoro (NRM, National Female Youth Representative) during the plenary sitting on Wednesday, 04 October 2023, the musicians aver that the 17-year law has become outdated in light of advancement in technology and emergence of international best practices.
In particular, the musicians are concerned about the unfair distribution of revenues collected from their creativity through caller-back tunes, which they say profits telecom companies at their expense.
“Your petitioners who are contributors to the creative industry, aver that the existing legal framework for distribution of revenue collected from caller back tunes disadvantages the artists as most of the revenue benefits the telecom companies rather than the artists who should benefit more from their works,” the petition as presented by Hon. Nyamutoro reads.
In order to promote the growth of the creative industry, musicians, in their petition signed by more than 100 members, have proposed an amendment to the current law to revise the distribution of revenue collected from caller back tunes.
“There should be a revision of the charges for caller back tunes to ensure a fairer split of the revenue collected from the caller back tunes in the percentage of sixty percent to be retained by the artist and forty percent to be shared by both the Government and telecom companies,” the petition reads.
The petitioners also demanded that Parliament introduces new amendments to impose strict measures against broadcasters, who use pirated content and also a copy levy on devices used in the reproduction of copyright-protected works and ensure the proceeds are shared equally between government and holders of copyright.
Hon. Nyamutoro presenting the musicians petition on the Floor of the House
There is also an appeal from the musicians to register and regulate telecom aggregators, who are involved in the distribution and dissemination of copyrighted content. Interestingly, the musicians further demanded an affirmative action amendment that would require broadcasters to dedicate 90 per cent of airtime to Ugandan music as a way of promoting local content.
On 20 July 2022, Mawokota County North Member of Parliament, Hon. Hillary Kiyaga, was granted leave to introduce a Copyright and Neighbouring Rights (Amendment) Bill. However, the bill has not returned to the Floor of Parliament for First Reading.
Bukomansimbi South County Member of Parliament, Hon. Geoffrey Kayemba, attributed the delay to Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC) which frustrated the mover of the Bill. He urged the Attorney General to expedite the law for the good of the industry.
The Deputy Attorney General, Hon. Jackson Kafuuzi, replied in affirmative.
“Indeed, after a given period, laws require to be sieved and updated. I do understand our musicians’ concerns and our chambers have been working on this law but we welcome the petition and shall work with the committee to see how to improve it and accommodate their interests,” Hon Kafuuzi said.
Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa said the shortfalls in the law have made Ugandan musicians lose a lot of money while their counterparts in other countries are reaping big.
He directed that the Attorney General expedites the Bill in earnest, while the Committee on ICT and National Guidance handles other content-related matters raised in the petition and report back within 30 days.
The musicians in the public gallery acknowledging the good will of the Members of Parliament on Wednesday, 04 October 2023