Copyright – A Quick History on Uganda

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In 1973, Uganda joined the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Uganda is one of 19 member states of the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organization an intergovernmental organization (IGO) that facilitates cooperation among the member states in intellectual property matters.

On Dec 10, 1982, Uganda signed onto the Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs.

In 1985 Uganda formed its first copyright administration to serve authors (mainly musicians). This member owned company was limited by guarantee. The Uganda Performing Rights Society (UPRS) was recognized by the government as collecting society and became a member of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and composers (CISAC). UPRS entered reciprocal agreements with other societies worldwide under auspices of CISAC, protecting both local and foreign works falling within Uganda, and other societies protecting works (through UPRS) in their respective countries.

In 2004,  WIPO donated a work-station to Uganda and government presented it to UPRS so that we could manage copyright effectively and in conformity to world standards. Prior to this, the Patents Act (2002) had been amended.

Copyright law in Uganda is currently is governed by; the Copyright and Neighbouring Act, 2006 and the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Regulations, 2010. Under the act, collecting society (or agency or copyright management organisation) will engage in broad collective rights management. Collecting societies have the authority to license copyrighted works and collect royalties as part of compulsory licensing or individual licenses negotiated on behalf of its members who may be copyright owners.

Copyright term in Uganda is set at 50 years (after lifetime of the author, for individual works; and after the date of first publication for companies). This applies to computer programs and anonymous works.

Copyright Regulation is carried out by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau, URSB through copyright management organizations. In Uganda there are 3 CMO’s namely:

  1. Uganda Reproductive Rights Organization (URRO) for literally works e.g. books,
  2. Uganda Federation of Movie Industry (UFMI) for audio visual works e.g. films and
  3. Uganda Performing Rights Society (UPRS) for musical works.

The public is now more aware of copyright infringement and other cases of violation, such as here and here. In spite of a robust legal framework, and examples of court cases, much of the rest of the public remains less keen on protecting and enforcing copyright.


Creative Commons in Uganda has been a forte for zealous content consumers and creators who wish to share some of the rights to their work while reserving some rights. In late 2012, the CC Uganda created a Public Domain brief, domesticated the CC 3.0 licenses and even translated them into Luganda (Uganda’s largest spoken local language). The licenses were popularized, through public events among NGOs, Universities and some content creators.

The CC Uganda Chapter works to advocate for and promote knowledge on copyright, the use of CC Licenses for open access, open government projects; the creation and use of open educational resources and the economic benefits of intellectual property rights.

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