The dominant narrative on what the highly anticipated copyright law in Uganda can contribute to the creative industry and government hinges on the financial rewards, ideology approach to copyright, and the existence of the Copyright And Neighbouring Rights Act,2006.

In other words, the perception is that copyright law exists to prevent unauthorized access to a creator’s work. The justification for this is that it helps secure financial rewards for the creator, which in turn incentivizes him to create more works for the good of the copyright ecosystem.

Edward Christopher Sheeran MBE a.k.a Ed Sheeran won his copyright trial over similarities between his hit single “Thinking Out Loud” and the Marvin Gaye 1973 classic “Let’s Get It On”.

Sheeran was accused of ripping off part of the famed soul track Gaye created with fellow songwriter Ed Townsend in a lawsuit originally filed by the heirs of Townsend in 2017. 

With the advent of the copyright law in Uganda, there is a lot that can be put into consideration in enacting the law.

In addition, Ed Sheeran went to court with his guitar and played several songs with the same chord sequence as the one he was accused of copying, portraying the fact that you can’t copyright a chord sequence but rather one can copyright melodies because they are out of one’s creativity.

Further, a federal jury in the downtown Manhattan court established that duplicating one or two components of a song doesn’t amount to copyright infringement.

Similarities between the one-bar phrase in “Shape of You” and “Oh Why”, but said “such similarities are only a starting point for a possible infringement” of copyright.

The court will always put into consideration the pertinent parts of the song “differences between the relevant parts” of the songs, which “provide compelling evidence that the ‘Oh I’ phrase” in Sheeran’s song “originated from sources other than Oh Why”.

However, on the other hand, copyright was designed to benefit society by facilitating a common creative culture through a body of work in the public domain that others can draw on. This is why it is limited in both time and scope.

Courts of law in copyright matters are sometimes not the solution because courts expand copyright’s remit, curtailing future creativity especially for artists without deep pockets to sustain legal battle.

Meanwhile, Ugandan creatives and artists ought to know that with copyright, their popularity cannot influence the court in making a judgment but rather like equity suggests they must go to court with clean hands.


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